Lessons for the arts to adapt and remain resilient under pressure

Lessons for the arts to adapt and remain resilient under pressure

By Mark Robinson


This substantial report looks at theories behind a ‘resilient, adaptive ecology’ and applies them to the arts ecology at a time of increasing funding stress and change for nearly all arts organisation. It aims to: • explore the relevance of resilience thinking to the arts • suggest a basic or simplified hypothetical version of an ‘arts ecology’ • identify characteristics of resilient arts organisations and sectors • make recommendations for how Arts Council England and others could enhance resilience in the arts sector, especially through the funding frameworks and expectations.

Innovative organisations without the resources to turn their innovation into sustainable organisational capacity – perhaps due to lack of investment or lack of certain skills – can be productive, but can also become frustrated in their ambitions. This is a typical situation for organisations who see their development as dependent upon receiving regular funding – although that is often not the best way of investing in them. Frustrated innovators can also inhabit the Poverty Trap, though tend to do so in a more positive way than those who feel more dependent on funders. The major downside of operating in this quadrant is what might be called ‘The Exhaustion Factor’. Individuals burn out here, talent is lost to the sector and some people move through on their way to more stable jobs. In ecosystem terms, this may be a good thing, but there may be a cost to individuals and, indeed, to localities. (Schemes such as the Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Breakthrough Fund have addressed this issue in recent years.)

Resource type: Research | Published: 2013