Pacific Opera Victoria (POV), Victoria Symphony Society (VSS), and Victoria Dance Society (VDS)
In a community blessed with large, local, professional producers of opera, symphony, and dance performances, the operators of Victoria's two civic theatres introduced a new stage rental policy that threatened the delicate balance of interests that enabled their success. Uncertain how to respond, the producers searched for consultants who understood the challenges facing every city that owns performing arts facilities. They found NetGain Partners, who quickly analyzed the issues and assessed the impacts of the new policy on each of the producers, separately and together, and on the venue operators themselves.
The result was a deep briefing document used to set agendas and support the deliberations of a joint Working Group that was formed in response to a mayoral request for clarification of the issues and, if possible, resolution. One of the key findings is that the problem of pressure on stage access and rental rates is actually a symptom of success within Victoria's performing arts ecosystem. Collectively the three producers and the venue operators have grown from $12 million to $15 million in annual revenue in only five years, suggesting that a collective approach, considering the entire portfolio of the community's performing arts needs, might lead to a better outcome than a zero-sum conflict between organizations that have been vital to one another's growth to this point.
Centre of Learning & Development - the CORE
NetGain was originally contracted in early summer 2018 to assess the Centre of Learning & Development's fundraising strategy and find ways to diversify its funding, with the aim to enhance contributions from corporate, individual and foundation donors. For 40 years this grassroots charitable organization has been providing critical adult education and training to the Regent Park, St. James Town, and Moss Park communities of downtown east Toronto. After CL&D gained access to space in a new building through the Daniels Corporation's Community Commercial Program, the project grew into leading a $1.5M capital campaign for a 2,050 sq. ft. home for CL&D's growing social enterprises - the Regent Park Catering Collective and Regent Park Sewing Studio. NetGain is driving the Campaign for the Centre of Opportunities for Regent Park Enterprises (the CORE), with $350,000 raised to date.
The new space is slated to open in early 2021 with a commercial kitchen and professional sewing studio, offering valuable local jobs and training. Improvements to fundraising practices and procedures that NetGain is helping to build at CL&D will set the organization up for a strong future, long after the campaign ends.
As this non-profit organization and its parent company, Akin Collective, grew together, it became apparent that they would soon hit their limits unless capacity increased somehow. NetGain was enlisted to analyze both the non-profit and its commercial parent to achieve capacity gains by focusing each on what it could do best, and by linking one to the other contractually to enhance the mutual benefits they'd enjoyed in the past. Then, once their governance and management models had been clarified, and they'd been refocused on their distinct (but related) missions, NetGain helped them to find new sources of support for further growth.
The early result has been a more self-reliant Akin Projects, it's first operating grant, and significant provincial and federal grants pending. In the future, the hard reform work of the Akin founders and board will result in a member-centric, progam-driven Akin Projects, linked inextricably to the studios and services available to members through the commercial sub-leasing work of Akin Collective.
Dance Collection Danse
With the support of The Metcalf Foundation, Dance Collection Danse (DCD) engaged NetGain to assist them in a multi-phase strategic and business planning process. Founded in 1986, DCD preserves the history of theatrical dance in Canada through building and maintaining archival collections with a view to facilitating educational and research needs and sharing it with the public. Located in Toronto, DCD has an extensive collection of text documents, still and moving images, 3-dimensional objects, and other dance artifacts.
When we met DCD it had a strong reputation in the dance history community but was at a crossroads in its development, with some looming issues, such as an inadequate facility, redevelopment threats from the landlord, fundraising concerns, an aging audience, and executive leadership change.
From January to April 2018, NetGain and DCD, with input from a group of seasoned and respected advisors, collaborated on two phases of a planning process. This was grounded in new strategic objectives based on internal needs, input from key stakeholders, and research on comparable organizations and potential partners. NetGain’s research indicated, not surprisingly, strong interest in DCD within the dance community, but also uncovered several areas of overlapping interest outside of the dance community (e.g. figure skaters). DCD’s greatest potential for growth was summarized in the following goals:
- increasing relevance,
- determining effective partnership parameters,
- identifying the best model for service delivery, refine the mission and vision, and
- planning for Board development and leadership succession.
These goals guided DCD and NetGain in assessing potential institutional partners and models of service delivery for the future. NetGain also guided DCD on updated Mission and Vision statements, as well as tools for Board selection and development, and leadership succession.
As part of this project, NetGain assisted DCD with a successful application to the Canada Council’s Digital Strategy Fund for support of the exploration and planning of a national digital compilation of archival dance collections. Our work serves as the foundation for more detailed planning and implementation. NetGain is proud to have worked with DCD to ensure the future of the organization, which, in turn, safeguards the legacy of the Canadian dance community.