4 cultural cornerstones

The desire to offer cultural enrichment is a strong one in the nonprofit sector, but, as with most things in life, a good intention or great idea doesn’t always yield happy results.

Beautiful buildings, great art/performances: they need work and intelligence. A new museum or concert hall can uplift and strengthen a community, but for every success story there is one of good intentions gone awry.

In their book “Building for the Arts” Peter Frumkin and Ana Kolendo wrote that there are four cornerstones that support (or bring down if thing go wrong) a cultural building project, as well as four critical connectors that link the cornerstones.

The four cornerstones are:

  • Mission. The heart of a nonprofit is also the heart of an arts/culture nonprofit. Artistic excellence and mission impact are not mutually exclusive, but they are different.
  • Capacity. When artists get a moment in the limelight, it is often a few core elements of capacity that made success possible.
  • Funding. It is difficult to think of strategic design without considering the concrete issue of money.
  • Community. To make a new building is to make an overture to the community to see an arts organization in a new light.

The four critical connectors are: Feasibility; Sustainability; Viability; and, Credibility.