GOLD2022

The Arts Alliance

arts + creative industries = impact

aka Creative Washtenaw   |   Ann Arbor, MI   |  www.creativewashtenaw.org

Mission

Creative Washtenaw is the arts + creative industry authority in Washtenaw County, Michigan. A regional agency, its mission is to advocate for and provide support services to artists, creative workers, organizations, businesses, educational and government entities to ensure that Washtenaw County, Michigan – the greater Ann Arbor area – remains a great place for all to create, live, work, learn, play and visit. Creative Washtenaw serves professionals, amateurs, students and industry experts leading the sector locally, nationally and internationally. They have creative practices, own creative businesses and hold creative jobs in profit, nonprofit, educational and government entities and produce creative goods, services and programs for county residents and visitors.

Ruling year info

2008

president/CEO

Ms. Deb Polich

Main address

1100 North Main Street, #A

Ann Arbor, MI 48104 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Ann Arbor Council for Community Excellence

Arts Alliance of the Ann Arbor Area

EIN

26-0638491

NTEE code info

Arts Council/Agency (A26)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The Arts Alliance is the arts + creative industry authority in Washtenaw County. A regional agency, its mission is to advocate for and support Creative Washtenaw and ensure that the greater Ann Arbor, Michigan, region remains a great place to create, live, work, learn, play and visit. The intrinsic and aesthetic values of the arts and creativity are determining factors of success its members: Creative people from students to industry experts who have creative practices, own creative businesses, hold creative jobs in profit, nonprofit and government entities; and offer creative products, services and programs throughout the community. The Arts Alliance works diligently to demonstrate the impact of the sector on the economy, education, quality of life and place. It relentlessly pushes the arts + creative industries agenda forward by persuading the community at large, its leaders and decision makers of the value of investing in and setting policies to benefit the sector.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Cultural Leaders Forum

Cultural Leaders Forum – The Cultural Leaders Forum (CLF) meets 7 times per year and provides leaders of more than 20 large and regionally representative arts and cultural organizations with the opportunity to collaborate, address sector issues and receive collegial support. It facilitates communication, collaboration and support among the leaders of Washtenaw County's major cultural institutions and businesses. CLF members meet to be informed, seek opportunities for collaboration and work together on advocacy, common issues and concerns.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Monthly networking activity for emerging arts leaders and artists

Population(s) Served
Adults

Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs (MCACA) – As the contracted administrator of MCACA’s Region 9 Regranting program for arts and cultural organizations and artists in Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe and Washtenaw counties, we adhere strictly to MCACA’s guidelines for the minigrant process. This includes conducting workshops in each county about applying for, fulfilling and reporting on grants. We recruit and train panelists on reviewing and scoring the mini-grants before hosting the review panels.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Implementation of the recommendations of the Washtenaw County Cultural Master Plan

Population(s) Served
Adults

Bi-weekly e-newsletter featuring Michigan and national arts news, Arts Alliance updates, job listings, grant opportunities, calls for artists, available arts space listings, transitions news.

Population(s) Served
Adults

The Arts Alliance advocates every day, across sectors, for the value and support of Washtenaw County’s creative sector. The greatest overall impact of our work is that Washtenaw County is now a place where the arts and creative industries have a major voice in discussions, decisions and actions in every sector and jurisdiction. Our role is to facilitate the creative sector by exploring opportunities for creative expression, conducting the research relevant to enacting initiatives and installations and by fostering and administrating creative initiatives. We give voice to the importance of the creative industry’s impact on quality of life by influencing policy and investment, and help to build appreciation and value through our advocacy.

1. Washtenaw Votes! – Biannually, The Arts Alliance holds Creative Washtenaw Votes! Candidates’ Reception and Town Hall and invites candidates from Washtenaw County have the opportunity to express their positions on the arts and creative industries at the Creative Washtenaw Votes! Candidates’ Reception and Town Hall . The July 2016 The Town Hall was moderated by David Fair, Morning Edition host on WEMU FM 89.1. Some 34 candidates attended including Representative Debbie Dingell and office-seekers for: US Congress, state representative (7), Washtenaw County commissioner and other county-wide offices (9), Ann Arbor City Council (5) and others running in Ypsilanti, Pittsfield, Northfield, Superior, Augusta, Lima, Lodi and Bridgewater townships.

2. Annual Candidate Survey for candidates running for office in Washtenaw County regarding their positions on representing the arts and creative sector. Candidates are asked how, if elected, they intend to ensure that the creative sector is competitive in initiatives that make Washtenaw County an attractive place to create, live, work, learn, play and visit. Candidates’ verbatim responses are distributed in the eNewsletter and released to the media for publication.

3. Arts and Creative Industries and Education Advocacy Training. The Arts Alliance, in partnership with Creative Many Michigan and the Eastern Michigan University Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, hosted a two-hour seminar, focusing on how advocates can move the creative agenda forward in the public and private arena in Washtenaw County, MI.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Arts & Cultural Education Integration for Student Excellence (ACEISE) is a partnership of The Arts Alliance and Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD). Recently awarded a $100,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant, the purpose of the ACEISE project is to ensure that the 47,000 students attending school in Washtenaw County have equitable access to creative education. The ultimate objective is for a long-term sustainable plan in place to offer all WISD students the chance to benefit from high quality, consistent, sequential and standards-based education through the arts, culture, design and creativity – based in production/performance and integrated education in curricular and co-curricular settings. ACEISE is based on the models and utilizes the tools of the Kennedy Center's "Every Given Child" and Lincoln Center's "Designing a Learning Community" programs to engage the community, gather data and evaluate the program.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Production of 32,000 guides promoting The Arts Alliance members and their programs are distributed to 100+ locations in the communities and via The New York Times. 2. The Arts and Creative Industries Newsletter - A bi-weekly e-newsletter and social media publication connecting and promoting the arts and creative industries in the greater Ann Arbor, MI area. It features local, regional and national articles pertinent to the sector, advocacy updates, member events, job and internship postings, calls for art and more — directly reaching more than 3,600 subscribers directly and many others through additional shares.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Creative Cooperative Assessment. Washtenaw County awarded a $70,000 contact to The Arts Alliance to conduct a multi-phased project. The grant was used to assess the interest in, need for, feasibility of, economic impact potential and business models for one or more sustainable cooperative multi-purposed spaces for artists and creative individuals to be located in Washtenaw County. The Request for Expression of Interest (REOI) report is complete and available at http://www.a3arts.org/programs-services/creative-cooperative/ . We are now onto the feasibility study phase to be followed by a business plan.

Population(s) Served
Artists and performers

THE pARTy! - The Arts Alliance’s annual signature event celebrating the best of the best of the arts and creative industries in Washtenaw County including:

 The Arts Alliance’s Medals for Arts, Sciences & Humanities. - established in 2015 to honor the exemplary and extraordinary achievements, contributions and accomplishments of artists, creatives, individuals, businesses and organizations who, as they advance the arts, sciences and humanities, increase public awareness of the arts and creative sector in Washtenaw County, Michigan and beyond. Through their actions, leadership, philanthropy and body of work, medal awardees make their mark on the creative sector, set the standard for excellence and serve as an example for others to follow.

o Lifetime Achievement Medal - Presented to an individual in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding contributions and achievements within his or her field of arts, creativity, sciences and/or humanities.

o Philanthropic Excellence Medal - presented to an individual or individuals in recognition of a phenomenal history of civic leadership and philanthropy to advance the arts, sciences and humanities.

o Outstanding Service Medal - Presented to an organization or business in recognition of outstanding civic leadership and philanthropy to advance the arts, sciences and humanities.

 THE ARTS ALLIANCE 21ST CENTURY AWARDS are awarded periodically to recognize those who have demonstrated – through action and accomplishment – progressive approaches to the advancement of the arts, sciences and humanities in Washtenaw County. o Excellence in Education Award - Presented to a noted individual, school, business or organization that has made a significant contribution to the advancement of the arts, sciences and humanities education in Washtenaw County.

o The Tamara Real Emerging Leader Award - Presented to an individual or team who has demonstrated the promising potential to advance the arts, sciences and humanities in Washtenaw County for many years to come. The award is named in honor of Tamara Real who played a significant role in launching The Arts Alliance as she heightened awareness of the value of Washtenaw County’s creative sector while mentoring and championing emerging creative sector leaders.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Awards

Recipient of one of two major Pfizer Legacy Grants 2008

Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

To make it possible for artists and creatives to make a decent living, to ensure that creative organizations and businesses are properly resourced and that schools have the means to provide students with arts + creative education as a right to a well-rounded education that leads to a workforce possessing the depth of skills desired by 21st century employers. The Arts Alliance and its members know that building and sustaining a vibrant arts sector is not accomplished by want or magic. It takes long-term commitment.
The Arts Alliance has earned respect among community decision-makers resulting in being asked to take a “seat at the table” on community planning and initiatives (though sometimes still bringing our own chair.) The Arts Alliance is an essential partner with the business, education, government, tourism, philanthropic, health, and other sectors demonstrating the interconnectivity of and integrating art + creativity into all aspects of community life. Broad-based engagement and the Washtenaw County Cultural Master Plan informs the work of The Arts Alliance as it:
- Facilitates to explore issues, conduct research, administer MCACA Regranting programs and foster creative initiatives.
- Advocates to voice the creative industries’ impact and influence policy and encourage investment.
- Communicates to promote the creative industries’ programs and collaborative initiatives.
- Educates to encourage investment and participation in life-long creative learning programs.
- Celebrates to trumpet the triumphs of the creative industries.
Championing the Arts + Creative Industries
The intrinsic and aesthetic values of art and creativity are essential and the highest determining factors of success for these individual practitioners, for profit, nonprofit and government entities.
§ Advertising & promotion
§ Architecture: building, landscape, urban & regional planning, marine & naval, etc.
§ Art schools, art teachers, artists & agents
§ Art therapy, rehabilitation and healing
§ Creative technology: app design, game design, web design, etc.
§ Culture & heritage: preservation, centers, museums
§ Design: display, exhibition, graphic, industrial, interior, multimedia, packaging, product, visual communication user interface design, etc.
§ Fashion: design, garments, textiles, footwear, lifestyle & accessories
§ Film, audio visual & broadcasting
§ Literary, publishing & print
§ Music & recording
§ Museums: art, cultural, heritage, history & science
§ Research & development: The pursuit of models, methods, formulas and products of unusual value.
§ Science & nature centers
§ Performing arts: dance, music, multidisciplinary, theater, etc.
§ Visual arts: artisan-crafts, painting, sculpting, photography, etc.

Board, staff and administration
An actively involved and diverse board of directors, who live, work or go to school in Washtenaw County, guides The Arts Alliance. Meeting bimonthly, it is comprised of respected artists, creatives and community leaders representing the areas of business, education, government, tourism, NGOs, research and economic development. The Arts Alliance is committed to following and complying with nonprofit best practices. It regularly updates its policies including bylaws, board responsibilities, employee guidelines, financial procedures, communications and risk management.
The Arts Alliance, a fully independent nonprofit organization contracts managerial services through Artrain, another Ann Arbor, Michigan-based independent nonprofit arts organization that has helped develop and support local arts agencies throughout the state and across the country. As such The Arts Alliance’s professional team members are employees of Artrain.

-Responding and Assisting. Virtually every day, calls, emails and texts come in from members, artists, creatives, cultural specialists, creative organizations and businesses from the Washtenaw County area requesting assistance, guidance, resources, services, relief, connections and more. This is the ongoing forever mission work of a local service organization – work that will not end as long as artists and creatives struggle to make a decent living, schools do not budget for or consider arts + creative education core to the curriculum and arts + creative organizations and businesses remain woefully under-resourced. The time shared, counsel extended, connections made, encouragement and hope offered, is valued as serving mission rather than “billable hours” by The Arts Alliance.
- Arts + Creative Education Integration for Student Excellence |ACEISE). A partnership of Washtenaw Intermediate School District and The Arts Alliance, the goal of ACEISE is to ensure that the 47,000 students attending school in Washtenaw County have equitable access to high quality, consistent, sequential and standards-based education through the arts, culture, design and creativity – based on production/performance and integrated education in curricular and co-curricular setting. This multiyear project is based on and utilizes the tools of the Kennedy Center's "Every Given Child" and Lincoln Center's "Designing a Learning Community" models to engage the community, gather data and input to develop a long-term sustainable plan. The plan, supported by the NEA is in final draft form.
- Advocacy. The Arts Alliance advocates every day, across sectors, to communicate and persuade community leaders, decision and policy makers to invest in and set policies that benefit the arts and creative industries. We are making progress. Our voice is now heard: elected officials, candidates and community leaders seek our council and opinion. Still, substantive policy and investment changes have not been realized. More work is to be done.
- Creative Washtenaw Votes 2020. The Arts Alliance will update its Advocacy Tool Kit, host an advocacy training program during the 2020 election cycle. It will also surveys candidates running for selected offices on the ballot in Washtenaw County about their views on the arts + creative industries, especially in regards to public policy and investment. All candidate responses are released verbatim for publication before the election to the media and The Arts Alliance’s constituents--Washtenaw County residents passionate about the arts and the creative industries.
- Creative Washtenaw Counts. This project aims to tell the story of role that Washtenaw’s creatives, enterprises and workers play locally in the economy, how they overlap; how they vary by community, culture, social, economic, ZIP code etc. by collecting data on creative sector employment, income, demographics and socioeconomic attributes etc.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Artists, creative workers, organizations, businesses, education and government programs

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Community meetings/Town halls, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Continually updating program language. Also adding ADA tools to website and correspondence.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Still early days....

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

The Arts Alliance
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

The Arts Alliance

Board of directors
as of 01/24/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms. Tina Walther

Rapport Innovative Marketing

Term: 2021 - 2022

Melissa Milton-Pung

Michigan Municipal League

Deb Polich

Artrain

Jay Mullick

PSMI, Inc.

Alexandra West

Ann Arbor Spark

Michael McCarthy

Bank of Ann Arbor

Colby Cesaro

Michigan Independent Colleges & Universities

Damian Farrell

Damian Farrell Design Group

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/24/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 01/24/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.