nextSteps is a website that serves as a one-stop shop where artists and administrators can go for reliable business resources. Meant to be a roadmap and resource to help artists thrive, the site is adapted on an ongoing basis to meet the ever-changing needs of our arts community. For the first time, users can access the Pentacle’s resources at any time and from anywhere in the world.
With over 44 years of experience serving the performing arts community from our headquarters in New York City, Pentacle wanted to give artists everywhere access to our knowledge and resources. We designed nextSteps to be accessible in all ways — geographically, via the internet from anywhere in the world; financially, for artists and entities of any budget size; and ADA compliant for people of all abilities. Now an artist in a rural community in the Midwest can have access to touring advice from our Booking department; or a newly emerging artist just starting out, can talk to a seasoned arts professional on how to set up Quickbooks.
Pentacle is also using nextSteps to innovate our arts administration services. We are continually developing new components of nextSteps like Live Chat, to provide artists and administrators with multiple channels of service to increase their capacities and strengthen their organizations. This digital platform allows us to connect with artists in new ways, gives them access to the knowledge we have gained over the years, and helps them adapt to the changes happening in the arts field.
The Origins of nextSteps
nextSteps started from our ART (Administrative Resource Team) research project, collecting data from sixteen artists in the capacity-building and comparison cohorts to learn how we can best help artists strengthen their infrastructure and achieve their goals. nextSteps builds upon this research and furthers it with an accessible platform open to constituents of all sizes, artistic interests, locations, and points of development.
When nextSteps launches, all the components of the site will be completely FREE. We want to encourage users to test it out, and give us feedback. We will be tracking certain things behind the scenes, to see where visitors are spending most of their time, and what topics are trending on the site. We will also embed short forms throughout the site to ask for feedback. This will help us evolve the site and the resources to be most useful for the field. Eventually some of the components of the site will have a small price tag to use, but the artist resources on the site will always be FREE.
The impact of COVID has already changed our thinking about how nextSteps can function in the new arts and business landscape. With the cancellation of live arts events, we are creating a virtual programming resource section of nextSteps to help artists plan and create their own virtual performances and events. COVID has also caused many artists to move out of New York and other cities. Being able to stay connected with artists wherever they are, is more important now than ever. Prior to COVID, we were concerned with trying to replicate an in-person experience on nextSteps, but now we are thinking about how to empower artists to use these digital resources in a way that could complement the in-person experience in the future.
Pentacle plans to relaunch nextSteps in 2023 with a new structure and new channels that artists and their administrators can navigate to get help on a variety of essential topics such as fundraising and DIY admin. We are also improving the search function throughout the site with advanced filters and tags so users can easily browse on any area of interest. New resource articles and blog posts will continue to be rolled out on a weekly and biweekly basis and feature guest writers with expertise in specific arts admin topics such as booking and touring, financial management, and fundraising and development. The Live Chat function will also continue to be offered with various guest administrators offering their expertise for free to users.
A premium tier of the site is being developed to give subscribers access to additional resources and direct services from Pentacle for a small fee. Premium content and support services on nextSteps will include extended Live Chat consultations; access to a larger library of administrative and managerial templates; and additional resources and services for enhancing infrastructure. All of these components will be offered at a fraction of the cost of hiring a consultant or staff person with similar expertise, and can also be purchased by organizational partners to give to their members/constituents for free. For more information on nextSteps premium subscriptions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Pentacle’s nextSteps is supported, in part, by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Pentacle receives private support for nextSteps from the Howard Gilman Foundation, the New York Community Trust, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, The Jerome Robbins Foundation, and the Harkness Foundation for Dance.