Effective governance is an important component in the success and sustainability of any organisation, and Arts organisations are no exception. As highlighted in 2020 in the Arts and Culture Governance Report from the Australia Council for the Arts, strong governance is critical to the future success of Arts Organisations.
Effective Governance ensures that your organisation is well-run, has a clear sense of direction, is accountable to its stakeholders and more likely to proposer in the future.
By working to improve your arts organisation’s governance, you can ensure that it remains focused on its mission and goals, while managing risks and adhering to legal and regulatory requirements. The ability to demonstrate good governance is also an important indicator to funders that the organisation can be trusted to utilise the funding it provides in an effective manner.
In this article, we’ll highlight ways to enhance your arts organisation’s governance.
1. Build a strong board
Crafting a diverse, well-functioning board is an essential building block for good governance. You should aim to recruit board members with a wide range of skills, experience, and perspectives to provide a balanced and dynamic decision-making body. You should regularly review the board’s composition and seek new members who can contribute fresh ideas and expertise.
2. Train your board
Ensuring your new and existing board members have undertaken governance training will strengthen your organisations governance. By providing board members with governance training, you can ensure that everyone is well-equipped to fulfil their governance roles and responsibilities.
Governance training sessions can cover topics such as board functions and responsibilities, financial management, strategic planning, risk management, and stakeholder engagement.
Investing in a cost-effective governance training solution like BoardWise, to give your board members access to ongoing governance training and professional development, will help deliver better decision-making, increased accountability, and a more robust foundation for long-term success.
3. A clear mission, vision or purpose statement
A clear mission and vision statement or statement of purpose provides direction for your organisation and serves as a foundation for strategic planning the board will shape. Review and update these statements regularly to ensure they remain relevant and reflect the organisation’s current priorities. Ensure that all stakeholders, including board members, staff, volunteers, and patrons, are aligned with and committed to the mission and vision.
4. Craft a strategic plan
A strategic plan is a roadmap for achieving your organisation’s mission and goals. It should outline the strategies, objectives, and key performance indicators (KPIs) that will guide your organisation’s activities over a defined period. Involve all stakeholders in the planning process, and regularly review and update the plan to ensure it remains relevant and effective.
Good governance requires robust financial management. Develop clear financial policies and procedures, and ensure that all board members and executive staff (if you have them) understand their roles and responsibilities in financial decision-making.
Regularly review your organisation’s financial position and performance, and maintain accurate and up-to-date financial records. Conduct annual audits to ensure transparency and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.
6. Cultivate a culture of transparency and accountability
Transparency and accountability are crucial for building trust among stakeholders and maintaining the integrity of your organisation. Communicate openly and honestly about your organisation’s activities, decisions, and financial performance. Share information with stakeholders through regular reports, newsletters, and online platforms, and respond promptly and professionally to inquiries and concerns.
7. Engage in risk management
Identifying and managing risks is a vital aspect of good governance. Establish a risk management framework to identify, assess, and mitigate potential risks to your organisation’s operations, reputation, and financial stability. Regularly review and update the framework, and ensure that all stakeholders are aware of and involved in the risk management process.
8. Foster a culture of continuous improvement
Encourage a culture of continuous improvement within your organisation by regularly reviewing and assessing your governance practices, policies, and procedures. Seek feedback from stakeholders, and be open to change and adaptation. Implement best practices from the wider arts sector and adapt them to suit your organisation’s unique context and needs.
9. Encourage stakeholder engagement
Engaging with your stakeholders is essential for maintaining strong relationships and ensuring that your organisation’s activities align with their needs and expectations. Develop a stakeholder engagement strategy that outlines how you will communicate with and involve stakeholders in your organisation’s activities, and regularly review and update the strategy as needed.
10. Promote diversity, equity, and inclusion
A diverse, equitable, and inclusive arts organisation is more likely to achieve its mission and better serve its community. Develop and implement diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and practices that promote representation, accessibility, and inclusion at all levels of your organisation. Regularly review and update these policies to ensure they remain effective and relevant.
11. Utilise Technology
Incorporating a board portal into your arts organisation’s governance practice will significantly improve communication, collaboration, and efficiency among board members. A board portal is a digital platform designed to streamline board administration processes, centralise critical board information, and facilitate real-time collaboration.
By using a board portal, your organisation can easily share documents, agendas, and meeting minutes, as well as track decisions and action items. This enables board members to access important information at their fingertips, leading to more informed and efficient decision-making. Adopting a board portal ultimately supports better governance by fostering transparency, accountability, and a more organised approach to board activities.
Resources for improving Arts Organisation Governance
Why is governance important in an Arts Organisation?
Governance is essential in an arts organisation to ensure effective organisational oversight, clear direction, accountability, financial stability, risk mitigation, and long-term success while staying true to its mission and serving the stakeholders the organisation was is created for.
What is the purpose of an Arts Organisation?
The purpose of an arts organisation is to foster creativity, promote cultural expression, enrich the community, and support artists by organizing, presenting, and supporting various artistic and cultural activities, events, and initiatives.
What is the function of a nonprofit Arts Organisation?
The function of a nonprofit arts organisation is to facilitate and promote artistic and cultural experiences without focusing on profit. They support artists, provide educational opportunities, engage the community, and enhance cultural enrichment, while relying on donations, grants, and fundraising to achieve their mission and goals.
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