In 2021, Arts Council England launched its new 10-year strategy Let’s Create. Included in their delivery plan are four Investment Principles which identify the focus of their investment over the next 10 years in developing the arts sector in England. Perhaps the most talked about Investment Principle has been Dynamism – but what exactly does it mean and what does the Arts Council expect from arts organisations?

It’s all about resilience and how your organisation can be strong enough to meet the challenges of the next decade. With the pandemic affecting cultural organisations to a great extent, it became clear that those with Dynamism built into their organisations were able to survive the trials of the pandemic better.

Dynamism is also where our consultancy team focuses their work. Our consultants have been supporting various organisations through this difficult time, helping them to build the element of resilience into their future plans. Where we’ve been able to work with organisations over longer periods of time, we’ve seen how they have grown their Dynamism to become strong, sustainable companies who can weather the storm.

So, what should be considered when we think about Dynamism for our organisations?

We’ve put together five areas that you should think about when starting to build your organisation’s resilience for the future:

  1. Diversify your income streams.
    Look at where your sources of income come from: Are you overly reliant on one area? Analyse your funding mix – does your organisation have a mixture of income from grants, earned income, sales and donations? Can you develop the mix better so that if one income stream fails, you have others to keep you going through hard times?
  2. Develop your skills.
    We believe that investing in training and skills-development for your teams is an investment in your future. Not only will your staff feel a better sense of job satisfaction by having the opportunity to develop their skills, they will also be able to work more dynamically, applying their new skills and knowledge to improve ways of working in the organisation, streamlining processes and applying knowledge and insights to solve problems. Work with your teams to look at the areas in your organisation that could do with an upgrade or new thinking and then give your teams the skills to address them.
  3. Provide focused leadership.
    One of the things we learned from the pandemic was that when times are really tough, we should go back to the fundamentals: Re-focus on what your company really does, what is its main purpose and who are the communities that you serve? Stay focused on the fundamental mission of your organisation and make sure that every activity you undertake is working towards that mission. This might mean cutting back on some unnecessary things that are distracting you from your focus or just aren’t working anymore. Know your purpose and stay focused.
  4. Watch the trends.
    What processes do you use to really know what your audiences, participants or service-users really need from you? Do they still need what they used to need or have things changed? How good is your communication with your audiences? Do you have your finger on the pulse with what’s changing in your sector for your audiences or your geographic area? Get involved in those political discussions and know what’s coming up on the horizon – then you can make sure that your organisation is well placed to meet those new needs when they arise.
  5. Flex your working practices!
    This is really about supporting your workforce. Another thing we learned from the pandemic is how hard working-life became for many people, particularly for those who suddenly had to balance home-schooling their kids with holding down a job or trying to work at home. What made this easier for workers were employers who were prepared to consider flexible working – giving staff the ability to change their hours, having the choice of working from home or in a work base and having structured check-ins to ensure that everybody’s wellbeing is looked after. Losing staff at a critical time can be devastating for organisations, so being flexible to your staff’s working needs is really important to ensure that they stay with you and that your organisation continues to benefit from their extensive knowledge and experience.

You can find out more about all four of the Arts Council England’s Investment Principles at their online Resource Hub.

If you’re considering applying for funding from the Arts Council, you will need to know about the Investment Principles for your application. We offer an online workshop at the end of June to explore in depth how to write an application using the Investment Principles. You can also talk to one of our highly experienced consultants to find out how we can help your organisation to become more dynamic: Email our Arts and Heritage Consultant joanna@artreach.biz or book onto one of our Consultancy Surgeries.