As we close in on the final months of our second year — and with the MAP Fund now on board — ArtsPool has become a membership of 10 incredible arts organizations. ArtsPool’s members are engaged in producing, presenting, funding, service, education, and outreach in the arts in New York City, and we’re proud to partner with them.

Our current membership includes…

52nd Street Project
Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York
Big Dance Theater
Fourth Arts Block
House Foundation for the Arts

MAP Fund
New York International Fringe Festival
Theatre of the Oppressed NYC
Young Audiences New York

In the last 22 months ArtsPool has…
  • Reconciled 16,235 bank transactions
  • Processed $3.77 million in gross payroll
  • Paid and reported taxes for 296 employees
  • Paid 4,741 bills

…in addition to myriad grant budgets, CDP/DataArts filings, Grants Gateway prequalifications, city, state and federal tax filings, audits, insurance renewals, employee handbook revisions, and corporate policy updates. And, we’re just getting started.

Special thanks to each of our members and to ArtsPool’s funders — the Altman Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Fidelity Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, McGue Millhiser Trust, New York Community Trust, Rockefeller Foundation Cultural Innovation Fund, and the Scherman Foundation Katharine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund — for getting us to this milestone!

If you’re interested in learning more about ArtsPool, please join us for an info session hosted by Dance Theatre of Harlem and the José Limón Dance Foundation on October 6th at 10:30am. For details and to RSVP, please visit our events page.

Photo by Eli Christman. Some rights reserved.

We Look Weird in This Outfit

Buster Keaton and Kathryn McGuire in The Navigator

A few months ago, my ArtsPool colleague Sarah Maxfield and I were invited to give a presentation about ArtsPool at the All-Ireland Performing Arts Conference, after which we also gave a brief demo of a free online tool we were building to help New York arts organizations cut through the mental clutter created by the various compliance tasks required of nonprofits. We confidently zipped through the demo, but when we clicked the submit button and the computer dutifully produced a to-do list of 40+ compliance tasks, the room erupted in laughter. A month later we gave a nearly identical presentation to the A.R.T./New York Board of Directors, and the same thing happened. In fact, the single biggest laugh line of this very unfunnily-named Compliance Toolkit is the sheer number of tasks it spits out.

After a year working on the ArtsPool project and several months focused on building this tool, Sarah, Guy, David, and I can assure you that there is nothing fun or funny about compliance. There is also nothing easy about getting a laugh, so when a computer makes a room of 200 people laugh, the first thing the former clown in me wants to know — even before “why are you programming a computer?” or “why are you thinking about nonprofit compliance?” — is why is that so funny? Read More…

A few years ago I was at the home of an artist friend who also works as a high-level software developer for a small but well-regarded software company. As I was leaving, I noticed that the wall behind his computer was covered with a well-organized grid of multicolored sticky notes, each scrawled with a cryptic instruction. I asked him what it was and he said “That’s my ‘kanban.’” Kanban, I learned, was a simple productivity tool that he and his developer buddies used to get things done: to-dos on the left column, work-in-progress in the middle column, completed work in the right column, color coding to separate categories of tasks. I chalked it up as alpha-geek life hacking and filed it under Curiosities.

In the spring of 2013 I encountered a much larger kanban on a whiteboard in the basement offices of New York Public Library Digital Labs, where another artist-cum-technologist friend works. As he described his team’s development process, he referenced a number of odd-sounding words and concepts like “scrum,” “sprints,” “stand-ups,” and (my favorite) “planning poker.” All of these, he explained, were tools that made up a larger concept known as agile software development, or agile for short. Creating software is a complex undertaking, and the agile methodology allowed his team to break their work into manageable pieces, work iteratively, empower team members, and incorporate feedback on the fly. It sounded a lot like how devised theater gets made, and I wondered whether this alien technology (management methods are really a form of social technology) could be used in worlds outside of software development. Read More…