MidWk Updates: How to Start A…


Hi! Looks like we are getting out of July and into August. Just strolling through the Americans for the Arts website and this caught my attention: Start a Local Arts Agency. I’m serious, take a look below…

Credit source: Americans for the Arts


Start a Local Arts Agency

A local arts agency (LAA) is a nonprofit organization or a local government agency that presents programming to the public, provides services to artists and arts organizations, manages cultural facilities, awards grants, and/or participates in community cultural planning.

Thinking of starting a local arts agency? The first and most important question is “Why?” Is there a community need for an LAA?  If the answer is a resounding yes, then here are a few tips of starting an LAA for your community:

  1. Get the Big Idea
  • Determine what your community wants out of the LAA and how can the LAA enhance their needs and boost the current programs and services offered. You could do this via a survey on a free, web-based survey provider or by in-person interviews with attendees at arts-related events in your community.
  • Determine if the local arts agency will be a private entity or public body embedded in the local government. Individuals cannot establish a public local arts agency alone, however, individuals and concerned groups do have cultural votes and can approach the local government (mayors, county commissioners, city council members, and other representatives) about starting a public LAA.
  • If a private LAA works best for your community, determine what business model is right for you. Traditionally, private local arts agencies are established as 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations with a governing board of directors. However, there are a myriad of business models that may work for a community.
  1. Do Your Homework
  • Familiarize yourself with legal requirements to start a new organization.
  • Determine the cultural-political climate and how the arts are supported by community leaders.
  • Pinpoint monies that are used or could be used.
  • Conduct a census of arts organizations and artists who live or work in the community.
  • Look for people who support the arts and who are sympathetic to the significance of communitywide cultural awareness and involvement.
  • Attend communitywide meetings. Listen to what is being said and by whom about the arts and the community.
  • Find the community’s priorities and its interest in the arts and cultural life of the community.
  • Contact the staff at Americans for the Arts, the national organization for local arts agencies.
  1. Gather Forces 
  • Educate local officials and heighten the public awareness to the cultural needs, benefits, and spectrum of possibilities.
  • Increase the level of the public’s involvement with every aspect of existing or potentially existing activities/programs.
  • Acknowledge those that have helped your efforts and have aided the cultural community in the past.
  • Lobby and work toward the development and passing of a city ordinance or the establishment of an official mechanism/office for public cultural support.

From the Monograph Local Arts Agencies 2012.

Contact the Local Arts Agency Services staff at  for more information on starting a local arts agency.


Here’s another one…

Start a United Arts Fund

United Arts Funds (UAFs) are local arts agencies whose main function is to raise money from local individuals, businesses, and foundations to regrant to local arts institutions and provide support to the cultural community. UAFs seek to raise money to provide ongoing support to arts groups by consolidating cultural fundraising efforts in one organization and use their knowledge of the cultural community to disperse the funds accordingly. Over the past 65 years, more than 100 communities across the country–both large and small–have established UA

Contact the Private Sector Initiatives team for more resources and information on starting a United Arts Fund, including a start-up guide, feasibility study, and on-going consultation and support.


And another one…

Start an Arts & Business Council or Business Committee for the Arts

Business Committees for the Arts (BCA) and Arts & Business Councils (A&BC) are organizations that encourage businesses in their operating areas to develop alliances with the arts. Americans for the Arts staff provides support for the network of independent A&BCs and BCAs around the country. While the two types of organizations are very similar and often run the same types of programs, historically BCAs work directly with the business community to foster partnerships, while A&BCs provide training to arts groups to empower them to form the partnerships with businesses. Do you see great potential for businesses in your community to partner with local arts organizations?

Contact the Private Sector Initiatives team for more information on starting an Arts & Business Council or Business Committee for the Arts or visit our Arts & Business topic page for resources.


And there are more…

Start a Business Volunteers for the Arts® or Employee Engagement Program

Starting and Managing an Arts Education Program

Start a Social Change/Civic Engagement Initiative

Start a Local or Regional Network

Start or Advance a Cultural District

To see where I got the information, click right here!

More to come…



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