Found it! is an occasional blog series by ArtsPond Founder, Jessa Agilo.
Forced pivots, transitions, successions, and undesired (re)developments. PTSDs for shell-shocked small to medium-sized enterprises in the time of a global pandemic?
For the past six years, I have tried to plan the growth of ArtsPond with a mindset that is more akin to that of a lean, bootstrapped startup (iteratively designing multiple short and longer-term projects and initiatives) than a typical non-profit (devoted to a limited selection of long-term core programs).
While fulfillment of mission has always remained at the core of all that we do, I have tried to instill an internal culture that is open to, even welcomes, unexpected pivots, transitions, shifts and sucessions, iterative changes, redesigns, and evolutionary developments of the digital and human scope and complexity now prevelant for many in this world of COVID-19 shutdowns.
For example, the launch of I Lost My Gig Canada would never have happened if the internal values of ArtsPond did not enable a complete shift in our ongoing programmatic focus, including dropping the evolution of our key initiatives Artse United, Hatch Open, and Groundstory and delaying the launch of DigitalASO for several months.
While never easy personally or financially (we are relieved that many funders have embraced pivots this year, not a given in the past), I believe with change comes learning and from learning comes much sought after opportunities to deepen connections to community and mission. For those quickly shifting their realities in response to the shutdown, I encourage you to look at how a culture of change in digital and real life can be embraced by your entire community and organization as a permanent fixture, not only a pandemic one. While you are likely to experience a few unsettling seasons, keep at it as the benefits, in my experience, will come in bountiful streams when you are ready and need it the most.
After five years of precarity and uncertainty, our deep openness to change is beginning to pay dividends. Prioritizing digital first, and only deepening in-community initaitives as resources and networks allow, has been our key strategy. With a fiscal budget approaching $600,000 and 21 paid staff (compared to less thann $100,000 and zero paid staff five years ago), we are in a lifecycle stage where digital-first, human-empowered pivots, transitions, successions, and (re)developments are not a point of pressure or stress, but of learning, pride and success. From here, we are eager and ready to begin new iterations and successions in support of positive social change in both URL and IRL communities.
While currently operating on a project-to-project basis without the benefit of core funding, we are seeking to cultivate connections and collaborations with other creative changemakers with a multi-spectral interest in realizing spatial, economic, and digital justice for equity-seeking groups across Canada and beyond. In the short-term, we are seeking volunteer Associate(s) in Residence under 35 years of age to work with us and gradually learn the ropes of leading social change movements through the arts, with a committment from us to secure funding to turn these residencies into permanent paid leadership positions as our growth and evolution allows.
Are you interested in even some piece of the pond? Developing social purpose real estate or open source software? Researching innovative solutions to systemic issues? Breaking down silos and building national communities? Fighting for universal basic income, universal basic services, and other critical elements of a post-capitalist society? Advocating for the little people, youth, racialized, under-served freelance and gig workers in an increasingly power-hungry, big-only world? Or more?
If so, reach out and introduce yourself at firstname.lastname@example.org.