Like the larger economic and social landscape, the dance field has been experiencing an ever-widening income gap, creating significant obstacles for emerging artists to secure opportunities for sustainable growth and professional development. In addressing the steep decline of artists able to transition from early to mid-career, a gap that is even wider for artists of color*, Pentacle created and implemented Administrative Resource Team (ART), a research project to test if comprehensive, bundled administrative support plus mentorship could help these artists thrive and succeed in their art and careers.
Beginning in 2016, and with major support from The Scherman Foundation’s Rosin Fund, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, and governmental funding, out of 81 responses to the initial RFP, two panels comprised of artists, presenters, managers, and funders and facilitated by program evaluator and arts researcher, Hollis Headrick/Arts and Cultural Strategies, Inc. (ACS)—selected the sixteen artists for the project. The ART Research Study served emerging artists, predominantly of color, that were creating work in new ways and speaking to social issues. These artists represented a new generation of dance makers who were incorporating the technologies of today while bringing fresh narratives into the public sphere in brave and unapologetic ways.
During the capacity-building phase of the project, from January 2017 to June 2019, ART provided a cohort of eight New York City-based dance artists with capacity-building support in the form of one-on-one mentorship, bundled administrative support, and grant funds to use toward implementation of their artistic vision. Cathy Zimmerman also offered the artists mentorship on procuring engagement opportunities. As old models of presenting are giving way to new curatorial practices and different kinds of engagement with audiences, a major goal of the project was to help artists embrace new strategies for touring and cross-sectional collaboration with communities and presenters.
A second group of eight artists participated in the ART study as a comparison group, receiving monetary funds to compensate them for their time but no direct services. It was important to create two groups that closely mirrored each other in order to have accurate and productive research. Pentacle’s hypothesis was that by serving the capacity-building cohort in multiple management areas over an extended period of time, their infrastructure would stabilize and their capacity would grow, as compared to similar artists without access to these services.
- Antonio Ramos (Antonio Ramos and the Gang Bangers)
- Davalois Fearon (Davalois Fearon Dance)
- Francesca Harper (The Francesca Harper Project)
- Jeremy McQueen (The Black Iris Project)
- Kimberly Bartosik (daela)
- Raja Feather Kelly (the feath3r theory)
- Stefanie Batten Bland (Company SBB)
- Will Rawls
- Andre M Zachery (Renegade Performance Group)
- Bryan Strimpel & Shaina Branfman (B.S. Movement)
- John Zullo (Zullo Raw Movement)
- Marjani Forte-Saunders (Marjani Forte & Work)
- Miro Magaloire (New Chamber Ballet)
- Ni’Ja Whitson (The NWA Project)
- Pam Tanowitz (Pam Tanowitz Dance)
- Zoe Rabinowitz (Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre)
The mentors were selected and paired with each artist, taking into consideration the specific needs of each artist and the mentor’s areas of expertise. In addition, to receiving 100 hours of one-on-one mentorship from their assigned mentor, the artists also had access to an engagement opportunity consultant, Cathy Zimmerman on an as-needed basis to help them develop their touring and engagement strategies. Following an open call to leaders in the NYC performance field, Pentacle selected the following group of mentors:
Barbara Bryan, Executive Director of Movement Research
Boo Froebel, Producer, Curator, and Creative Consultant
Brian Rogers, Artistic Director of The Chocolate Factory
Fernando Maneca, Marketing & Communications Director of BAX
June Poster, Independent Arts Consultant
Phil Chan, Arts & Culture Director of IVY
Sarah A.O. Rosner, A.O.PRO (+ductions)
Hollis Headrick/Arts and Cultural Strategies, Inc.,
Hollis Headrick is a consultant for arts, education and philanthropic organizations focusing on program development and strategic planning. His clients have included the Brooklyn Academy of Music, League of American Orchestras, Lincoln Center Education, Pentacle, National Guild for Community Arts Education, The New York Community Trust, and the Wallace Foundation.
From 2003-06 he was the Director of the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall. He was the founding Executive Director of the Center for Arts Education, 1996-2003, a public-private initiative with New York City government and the Annenberg Foundation. From 1990-96 he was Director of the Arts in Education Program, New York State Council on the Arts. Hollis received the Arts Management Excellence Award from the Arts and Business Council in 2002.
Engagement Opportunity Strategist
Cathy Zimmerman is an independent producer, curator and creative consultant. She has a profound belief in artists as change agents and in the critical role arts and imagination play in creating just and democratic societies. With this core value at the forefront, she has worked for more than 25 years with U.S. and international performing artists and arts organizations in capacities including producing, curating, project development and management, artist representation, public relations and fundraising. Zimmerman was Executive Producer at MAPP International Productions, (1998-2016) --a producer of major performing arts projects that raise critical consciousness and spark social change --working with some of the major contemporary artists of our time, to bring their works and ideas to communities around the world. She is a recipient of the 2018 Fan Taylor Distinguished Service Award for her leadership at MAPP. Currently Zimmerman is a group leader for the Association of Performing Arts Professional’s Leadership Fellows Program and is on the dance and theater faculty at Sarah Lawrence College where she teaches an academic course designed to prepare graduate students with the global perspectives needed as they embark on their professional lives.
As a research study, the ART Program engaged the services of Hollis Headrick/Arts and Cultural Strategies, Inc. to design and implement a methodology for evaluation including:
ongoing, hands on monitoring by the Program Director
intake assessments and periodic surveys and evaluations by all stakeholders
monitoring of rubric established benchmarks for artists including the collection of economic comparable data during different points in the project period
an overall program evaluation
Pentacle is working with Hollis Headrick to create an online Administrative Resource Toolkit as a vehicle to share the outcomes of the ART study with the wider dance community, funders, and support organizations, and to increase the impact of the findings on services to the field.
The anticipated field-wide impact of the ART project included: advancing new voices in the dance community; evaluating the effectiveness of concentrated capacity-building for emerging artists; and increasing infrastructure support for emerging dance artists nationally over the long-term. In addition, with the comparative study between the capacity-building and comparison groups, the dance field will have solid data evaluating the effectiveness of intensive infrastructure support for emerging artists.
Pentacle wants to make sure the most vulnerable artists among us, those that have been routinely marginalized, or shut out of the traditional patron model of support, are able to access the resources needed to persist with their art. The potential long-term impact of this project is significant, as it is providing the basis for sustaining the next generation of dance artists. It is our belief that the outcomes of the ART study and the forthcoming Administrative Resource Toolkit will give artists the support and tools they need to thrive and make their high quality work. By adapting to the ever-changing needs of artists we are helping to enrich the cultural landscape and contributing to the dynamic flow of ideas so necessary to a healthy democratic society.
*Yancey Consulting Report “What Are the Paradigm Shifts Necessary for the Arts Sector to Nurture More Sustainable THRIVING Institutions of Color?,” Commissioned by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and New York Community Trust, Jan 2018.
Pentacle’s Administrative Resource Team (ART) is supported, in part, by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Pentacle receives private support for ART from The Scherman Foundation’s Katharine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, and the Howard Gilman Foundation.