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Faces of the Future

Harder + Company Community Research and Diane Espaldon

The Next Gen Arts Leadership Initiative was established to promote the leadership development of younger professionals (age 18 to 35) in California’s arts community.

The initiative, planned in 2009 and launched in 2010 by the James Irvine Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, working in partnership with the Center for Cultural Innovation, has three major components:

  • Networks: The Next Gen Initiative provides funds directly to intermediary organizations to administer Emerging Leaders Networks in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley. The funds are used for activities such as networking events, professional development programs, and strategic planning.
  • Professional Development Grants: The Center for Cultural Innovation administers grants of up to $1,000 (funded by the foundations) for individual emerging arts leaders to enhance their skills, participate in professional activities, and develop relationships with peers.
  • Innovation Grants: The Center for Cultural Innovation administers grants of up to $10,000 (provided by the foundations) to California arts organizations in order to experiment with approaches to strengthening the connection of younger arts leaders to the sector. These approaches focus on the organization’s role in supporting Next Gen professionals and include education and intergenerational mentoring.

This brief offers highlights from a 2012 assessment conducted by Harder+Company Community Research (in partnership with independent consultant Diane Espaldon) for the Irvine and Hewlett Foundations to document the process of building the initiative and to identify early lessons that could inform ongoing discussions about the initiative and future of the arts field. It summarizes key findings, expert insights, lessons learned, and implications for the future. The data in this report were collected in late 2011 and early 2012, and as such are reflective of the early stages of the initiative’s development.