OF/BY/FOR ALL: Nina Simon. Blog – launching the movement

Nina Simon
© Nina Simon

The AMA is backing the OF/BY/FOR ALL change network and following its progress through a series of Blogs by Nina Simon.

Find out more and join the movement including how well your organisation embodies OF/BY/FOR ALL outcomes and practices and how your work can grow.

Launching the First Wave of the OF/BY/For ALL Change network

How do you build a movement for institutional change?

That’s the question we’ve been grappling with as we start the OF/BY/FOR ALL initiative. Our goal is to help civic and cultural institutions become more representative OF, co-created BY, and welcoming FOR their diverse communities. We’ve see this model succeed at the MAH and at other community-centered organizations around the world. We want to share the methods and tools that make it work. Not as a prescriptive recipe, but as a pattern. We see OF/BY/FOR ALL as an adaptable playbook for community change.

The challenge is to figure out the best way to share that playbook. Last year, we tested out different formats. We explored opening a training center. Publishing toolkits. Consulting. Building a leadership development program. We even thought about franchising.

The model we landed on was movement building. We plan to fuel a distributed Change Network of organizations growing OF/BY/FOR ALL together. We’ll offer an online program for change, support a global community of practice, and keep expanding the program based on community input.

We want to make the “how” of community involvement clear and achievable. Change Network organizations will make specific pledges to become of, by, and for new communities. We’ll provide tools to help organizations meet their goals step by step. As the network grows, more of the tools and knowledge base will come from participating institutions, with our staff focusing on community organizing and connections.

Our near-term goal is to enroll at least 200 organizations by the end of 2020, collectively pledging to involve one million new people in their work. Eventually, we may build a certification program, like LEED for green buildings, or B Corps for social enterprise. But we’re starting with a campaign to involve one million people – and to build a community of organizations helping each other make it happen.

We’re excited about this movement-building model for three reasons:

It taps diverse sources of expertise. The MAH is not the authority on all things OF/BY/FOR ALL. By building a change network, we will empower diverse organizations to share methods and expertise with each other.

It scales. We want to go big with this movement. We plan to involve hundreds of organizations in the next three years – and thousands in the years to come. We realized that models that rely heavily on in-person training or consulting wouldn’t scale to the extent of our dreams.

It emphasizes action. Talk is good. Change is better. Change Network organizations will make specific commitments to become of, by, and for more diverse people. The program we’re building will help accelerate their progress. But it starts with organizations demonstrating eagerness and pledging to take action.

The Change Network program launches next week in prototype form with a First Wave of twenty organizations (full list at the end of this post). We selected a First Wave that reflects diversity of geography, size, and sector, so we can see who this works best for and why. The First Wave includes 6 museums, 5 performing arts organizations, 3 public libraries, 3 parks, and 3 community centers. Half are led by people of color or indigenous people. We represent six countries and ten time zones. For this prototype, 19 of 20 are in English-speaking countries, to provide as much clarity as possible as we get feedback from participants. In the future, we look forward to taking what we learn from this First Wave to build a strong Change Network with organizations all over the world.

I can’t wait to learn with and from these amazing First Wave organizations. Some are leaders in the field of community participation. Others are just getting started. All are ready and eager to grow of, by, and for their communities.

OF/BY/FOR ALL is one of many projects in a growing ecosystem of efforts to propel more inclusive institutions. Some people are writing toolkits. Some are giving workshops. Some are developing training programs. Some are leading academic studies. Some are funding projects. If we are going to build a more inclusive world, we don’t need just one or two projects. We need an ecosystem of activists, academics, funders, professionals, policymakers, and associations striving together towards common goals.

With OF/BY/FOR ALL, we’re playing a role in this ecosystem as an accelerant for organizational change. I respect my colleagues who are writing, advocating, funding, and researching the nuances of community work. Heck, I’ve spent lots of time participating in those ways myself. But today, I’m motivated to focus my resources and energy on a program to help organizations commit to action and make it happen. That’s what OF/BY/FOR ALL is all about.

As we learn more from the First Wave and build the Change Network, we’ll write about it on the OF/BY/FOR ALL website. So if you want to join us in sharing stories and opportunities to become of, by, and for your community, please consider joining that email list today.

Here is the brave, beautiful, and wide-ranging First Wave:

Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz, CA, USA (host site)

National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM, USA

Techniquest in Cardiff, Wales, UK (science center)

HistoryMiami Museum in Miami, FL, USA

Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center in Niagara Falls, NY, USA

Immigration Museum in Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Te Manawa in Palmerston North, Aotearoa, NZ (museum)

Stedelijk Museum Schiedam in Schiedam, Netherlands

Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, RI, USA

Oakland Symphony in Oakland, CA, USA

Marfa Public Radio in Marfa, TX, USA

Laundromat Project in New York, NY, USA

ARTZ Philadelphia in Philadelphia, PA, USA

Oakland Public Library in Oakland, CA, USA

St. Joseph County Public Library in South Bend, IN, USA

Dakota County Library in Eagan, MN, USA

Los Angeles River State Park Partners in Los Angeles, CA, USA

Divis and Black Mountain in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

Movement BE in San Diego, CA, USA (youth empowerment)

Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition in Minneapolis, MN, USA

Genesis Centre in Calgary, AB, Canada (community wellness)

I can’t wait to learn and build the Change Network with this First Wave in the months to come.

Nina Simon

First published on the MuseumTwo Blogspot

OF/BY/FOR ALL is a new worldwide initiative brought to you by Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

My Freelance Journey: Blog One – Introduction

AMA conference 2018 © Brian Roberts Images
AMA conference 2018 © Brian Roberts Images

MY FREELANCE JOURNEY is a new bi-monthly blog series where we follow Arts Marketing and Fundraising consultant Beckie Smith on her journey into life as a freelancer


Introduction to Beckie Smith

As I sit in my kitchen with my laptop open, my cup of tea just made and the title of my first blog post just typed, I can’t help but feel a bit like Carrie Bradshaw, posed in her New York apartment looking out of the window as she did at the start episode of Sex in the City.


And with that, you have my introduction; I’m Beckie Smith an experienced Arts Marketer and Fundraiser blogging my transition into becoming a Freelance Arts Marketing and Development Consultant, whose coming of age icons include… Carrie Bradshaw… apparently.


So, what gets me out of bed each day? Why have I chosen arts marketing? What have I done with the last 12 years of my professional life, and why have I decided to take the leap into the Freelance world? Let’s find out!


The truth is, what gets me out of bed each morning is a one-year-old desperate for milk and a four-year-old desperate to watch My Little Pony!


I’m one of those very rare, but very fortunate, people lucky enough to have carved a career from what they set their heart on at just 18 years old. Ever since I did my first twirl as a four-year-old dressed in a chimney sweep costume, I knew that I was destined for the bright lights of the performance industry. Thanks to Dr Paul Sutton (the Artistic Director of Worcester-based theatre company C&T) who led a monumental module at the University of Worcester called ‘Running A Theatre Company, ‘ I realised that careers were available in arts marketing and I never looked back.


I owe my career to Carol Jones and Aidan Plender. They not only offered me a place on the much sought-after Arts Management Post Grad course at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, but also armed me with a wealth of knowledge and helped me launch my career. I secured my first job as Communications Admin Assistant at Watershed before the course had even finished.


Despite going through such first-class industry training, and having sky-high potential and aspirations, I had no work experience. I had to start at the bottom, and I felt like an imbalanced seesaw. With hindsight, I now know that my training enabled quick career progression, as I climbed the career ladder to Marketing Assistant and then Marketing Officer at Bristol Old Vic and Exeter Northcott within just a couple of years.


My inner seesaw started to balance out as Deputy Marketing Manager at The Brewhouse Theatre and Arts Centre and then tilted in the other direction completely as Marketing Manager at The Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury.


Supported by Deborah Rees (now at Cast, Doncaster) and the best team I could wish for, I was given permission to play. We had fun with our audiences, playing games with focus groups, creating experiments that tested ‘this is how your segment should react- let’s see if it is true’. Self-made project by self-made project, I steered our audience development strategy forwards.


Key highlights included selling 274 tickets to an entirely Asian audience (which in Tewkesbury is a real achievement), raising £1M to redevelop the theatre and turning things totally on their head by suggesting that it should be The Roses that invested in the county’s leading business event – The Gloucestershire Business Show – rather than the other way around.


As Head of Marketing and Development at The Roses I found it increasingly difficult and very time consuming to keep the marketing and fundraising work separate from each other. To kill two birds with one stone (and to give me half a chance of leaving work before 10pm one weekend) I wrote a holistic marketing and development strategy.


That is when everything changed, because I no longer saw myself working in an arts and cultural organisation, but instead a Disney theme park.


Disney plans the layout of their theme parks so that every path leads to the Magic Kingdom in the middle. For our sector this means that regardless of whether someone is a first-time attendee or a regular, whether they only come to satisfy the mother-in-law on her birthday or if they pride themselves in seeing the most avantgarde contemporary dance on the planet; whether they throw loose change into a collection bucket, or if they are a major donor; every person is on a journey towards the Magic Kingdom.


What does that Magic Kingdom look like? It looks like a place that no one ever wants to leave and where they spend every last penny of their earnings. And how is this possible? It’s because the marketing team makes them want to and the fundraising team makes them need to. And it is this that gets me excited about working in arts marketing and development.


I later became Head of Global Marketing for International Theatre Interactive, but after two years the draw to return to an ACE funded organisation was just too strong. But where did I want to go?


When you reach a certain level of management, there are few opportunities to develop your career, especially outside of London. Head of Marketing and Development was already under my belt, as was Head of Global Marketing – the only thing next was CEO, but that would mean policy writing, HR, finance, programming, producing, and board meetings, none of which floated my boat.


Even if they did, CEO jobs don’t come up very often, especially for a working mum who – despite the sleep deprivation, impossible meal times, and constant pleading to get dressed – wants to spend at least one (if not two) days a week, jumping in streams, reading stories, and hiding under the table with her children.


So, after a summer of many long walks, plenty of nights that lead into the early hours of the morning, and numerous extra-large glasses of wine, my husband and I decided that It was time for me to go it alone and become freelance.


Follow Beckie’s journey as she adapts to the challenges and opportunities of freelance life. Next up, Beckie discusses the practicalities of setting up as a freelancer.

My Freelance Journey: Blog Two – Practicalities

AMA conference 2018 © Brian Roberts Images
AMA conference 2018 © Brian Roberts Images

MY FREELANCE JOURNEY is a new bi-monthly blog series where we follow Arts Marketing and Fundraising consultant Beckie Smith on her journey into life as a freelancer


Blog 2Becoming a freelancer – the practicalities

So decision made – I’m going freelance.

Where do I start?

Luckily, I had a friend who made the same decision 2 years ago, and we agreed to meet for a play date (child lingo for cup of coffee) to get the low down.

“It’s great,” she tells me. “You can work your hours around the kids (or traveling if you’re young free and single) and if you’re too tired to hit the gym after work, you can go during the day and make the hours up on your sofa watching Bodyguard.”

“It’s awful,” she continues. “Clients call me round the clock and they never remember which hours I work. You can have one baby on your hip, one hanging off your trouser leg, oven gloves on, and just as you are about to get the chips out of the oven, a new potential client calls you. It’s enough to tip you over the edge.”

It was hard at first – I felt I needed to respond to everyone immediately – but I soon realised it was essential to buy a separate phone that I can switch off at the end of the day, separating work from home life.

The next big decision is whether to become a sole trader (self-employed), or to start your own company. This is a massive decision, and it is worth taking your time over. I used this website to understand the pros of becoming a limited company and this one for understanding the pros of becoming a sole trader.

My biggest fear was getting to the end of the tax year and being hit with a massive tax, NI and student loan bill I couldn’t pay. I decided to become a sole-trader, but put in place very strict rules to discipline myself.

I then had to organise my finances. I have a personal bank account into which clients pay me and through which I pay company expenses, and a personal savings account. (Some people prefer to have a separate business account.) I take one third of my fee and transfer it into the savings account to cover my tax and NI at the end of the year. Finally, at the end of each month, I give myself a monthly salary, which I transfer into our family bank account.

Now, about paying yourself – I explored two options:

  1. a) Take what I earn that month
  2. b) Set myself an agreed salary that stays the same.

I went for option B because there will be some months where work is hard to find (January, February and August are notoriously bad, apparently), and as a sole trader you don’t get holiday or sick pay – I didn’t want my family finances to come into jeopardy. But how much should I pay myself? This was my approach:

  1. Calculate the number of days I want to work a week
  2. Multiply that by 47 (not 52, because of holiday pay)
  3. Multiply that by my daily rate
  4. Take off 20% to cover any quiet periods. This is my base line projected annual income as a business
  5. Take off the 3rd for tax and NI
  6. Take off 10% to accommodate work expenses. This gives me my annual income as an individual
  7. Divide this by 12 and pay it to myself monthly

Point 6 may well lead to a seemingly low salary but don’t forget, this is my net, not my gross.

Hopefully, you will not be out of work completely for three months (if so, this might be a good time to take a holiday), and your business expenses may decrease. Over time, funds will slowly start to build in your bank account.

Getting work takes lots of sheer hard grind at first; if possible, give yourself a phased entry into the freelance world. For me, this meant looking after the baby during the day and working every evening for two months building my website, getting legal and joining networks.

If you are currently employed you might consider dropping a day a week or condensing your hours to free up time. But don’t underestimate the toll working every day and launching a business in the evening takes on your family life, grumpiness levels and ability to make a cup of tea without putting coffee beans in the cup by mistake.

Then, it’s all about organisation. I recommend making a spreadsheet to list your clients, your working log, your income and expenditure and your invoice numbers.

I use Trello to organise my time because it enables me to schedule my work, create check lists, add notes, and keep clients up to date on my progress. It’s worth checking best practice for invoicing as well.

Ok, that’s done – what’s next?

Follow Beckie’s journey as she adapts to the challenges and opportunities of freelance life. Next time, Beckie discusses how to work out your unique place in the market.



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