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United Arts Council

New Partnership Helps Local Arts Organizations Build Skills to Lead and Manage Change

(RALEIGH)–Raleigh Arts, United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts, and EmcArts have partnered on a new initiative for local arts and cultural organizations, the Raleigh/Wake County Adaptive Leadership Circles Program, with additional support provided by The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation. The program’s goal is to support arts community members in navigating the substantial challenges created by COVID-19.

“The impact of COVID-19 on the arts is difficult to understate. Local arts nonprofits are seeing the most precipitous decrease in earned revenue because they simply can’t operate their venues or events in a way that comes close to break-even with social distancing guidelines,” remarked Charles Phaneuf, President, United Arts Council. “To survive, we all must continually innovate while asking how we can better serve communities that are most affected by this crisis.”

Scheduled to start in September, the Raleigh/Wake County Adaptive Leadership Circles Program is a six-month virtual peer cohort for local nonprofit arts and cultural leaders designed and led by arts innovation leader EmcArts. The program uses a collaborative approach to building the change muscles or adaptive capacities that support organizations being able to purposefully adapt as circumstances change in a complex manner and the future is unpredictable.

“EmcArts has this incredible talent for showing arts organizations how their creative strengths are actually transferrable skill sets that can successfully address significant business and organizational issues,” stated Raleigh Arts Arts Grant Director Sarah Corrin.

Program designer and leader EmcArts has a national reputation for its community-wide arts and cultural cohort programs that focus on how to work through adaptive challenges – intractable issues and problems for which no best practices or formulaic solutions exist. To date, they have worked with over 250 organizations across the country and in Canada, including cohorts in New York City, Chicago, Houston, and San Jose among others. Now based in Winston-Salem, EmcArts has designed this latest program specifically for Raleigh and Wake County arts and cultural organizations.

“By the very nature of their work, artists and creatives make sense of chaos,” stated EmcArts Managing Director Jonathan Halsey. “Now, more than ever, arts leaders need to build their adaptive capacities and to innovate for their organizations to maintain relevance in a post-pandemic environment. We believe that you can systematize innovation, and all of our programs are built upon this notion. We commend the City of Raleigh’s Office of Raleigh Arts and the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County for offering this leadership program to arts community members, and we look forward to working alongside this cohort of leaders as they set out to strengthen their adaptive capacities.”

The Raleigh/Wake County Adaptive Leadership Circles Program is open to any nonprofit arts and cultural organization with well-established arts programming that is located in Raleigh and/or other surrounding Wake County communities. The application process is open with a submission deadline of Friday, September 4 at 4:00 p.m. Complete program information and the online application form can be accessed at https://raleighnc.gov/SupportPages/raleighwake-county-adaptive-leadership-circles-program.


The United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County is designated by the Wake County Commissioners and the North Carolina Arts Council as the official local arts agency for Wake County. As a private nonprofit, United Arts has worked for more than 30 years to build a better Raleigh and Wake County through support of and advocacy for the arts. United Arts partners with businesses, individuals, foundations, and government to provide life-changing arts programming and support to our schools and community, resources and opportunities for artists, and arts integration training for teachers.
The Office of Raleigh Arts supports and promotes the arts in Raleigh by administering the programs of the City of Raleigh Arts Commission and the City’s Public Art and Design Board and supporting the Pullen and Sertoma Arts Centers. The Office of Raleigh Arts is part of the City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Department.
Inspired by the arts, driven by a world in transition, EmcArts works alongside arts organizations and communities as they take on their most complex challenges. Through carefully designed and facilitated training programs, it creates space and conditions to navigate uncertainty, test innovative strategies, and build adaptive cultures. EmcArts’ practice is deeply influenced by the artistic process, which has a unique power to unlock entrenched beliefs and open new ways of seeing. Over 250 arts organizations have participated in its adaptive change programs across the United States and Canada.
The Kenan Institute for the Arts is a creative catalyst that encourages and supports the exploration and development of new knowledge to transform the way artists, organizations and communities approach their creative challenges. The Kenan Institute believes that artists can contribute their creative ideas, visionary leadership and novel strategies to strengthen culture, generate innovation and develop social and economic capital. Based at UNC’s School of the Arts, the Kenan Institute forges alliances regionally and nationally with leading artists and exemplary arts organizations to advance that mission.

PO Box 26388
Raleigh, NC 27611

Phone: (919) 839-1498
[email protected]