Building our workforce – nonprofit collaboration is not just a nicety

At WorkInCulture, we serve the broad arts and culture sector across Ontario including many nonprofit arts organizations, most of which are micro or small (and by small, I mean five or fewer employees).
Within this reality, I see first-hand that nonprofit collaboration isn’t a nicety, it’s a necessity.
Policy and advocacy are grey areas in WorkInCulture’s mandate – we want to do the best by our community, but simply haven’t the resources to focus on this as well as research, development and delivery of training and other services.

I’m always looking for ways to add one and one to get three. Working with the Ontario Nonprofit Network on developing a provincial strategy for Ontario’s nonprofit labour force looks like a good bet to me. I see the potential to do things for the creative community that WorkInCulture just hasn’t been able to get to because of limited time and resources. By working across the nonprofit world, we have greater impact and clout. I think the thing that really grabbed my attention was seeing the statistic that over a million people are employed in the nonprofit sector in Ontario. Now that’s a number that deserves and commands attention and respect.

When it comes to labour forces challenges in the arts and culture sub-sector, certainly retention, motivation, training and succession are key issues. While it may be a challenge for other subsectors to connect to millennial workers, interestingly the arts don’t generally have difficulty in attracting young people. But we do struggle to keep them in the sector and figure out how to move them up the leadership pipeline. We need to find ways of providing on-going training at all levels, improving diversity and inclusion across the sector and building leadership skills to manage in a changing environment.
If we can find ways of working across our sub-sectors, might it be possible for even smaller organizations to offer opportunities for career advancement, training and mentoring for milleniums – those digitally savvy, connected and diverse workers that will, and should, be taking over from the likes of me?

We are obviously stronger together and it behooves us to find innovative ways to work together on common challenges and to find new opportunities for success. And we don’t have time to waste. Over the next 5-10 years many long-time arts leaders will be retiring. Many young people are out there looking for careers with meaning. Digital technology is driving change and opening up opportunities. We need to work together toward a cohesive provincial strategy that makes the future a better place for everyone.

About the author
Diane Davy is the Executive Director of WorkInCulture and the President of Castledale, a consulting company specializing in the business of the cultural sector. With over 25 years experience, her areas of expertise include strategic business planning, corporate structure and management, marketing strategies, revenue generation, board governance, project management and other related topics. She frequently works with government departments providing research and recommendations on policy and programming that impact the sector.

May 27, 2015 at 2:37 pm
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