A total of eight local music-focused nonprofit groups were formed into a cohort on Wednesday and will collectively receive $1.2 million over the next two years under a new program funded by the Creative Arkansas Community. Hub and Exchange (CACHE).
The eight recipients are House of Songs, City Sessions, Black Fret, Music Education Initiative, NWA Jazz Society, Music Moves Arkansas, Teen Action and Support Center (TASC), and Ra-Ve Cultural Foundation. Together they will form the Music Organizations Advancement Coalition.
“It’s a commitment to sit at the same table and have two years of shared learning to [these] organizations that have programming focused on music in some way,” said Kelsey Howard, director of artistic services and strategic partnerships for CACHE. “It will build relationships and [allow them to] partner with each other in new ways to cultivate a more cohesive collaborative music ecosystem…and make the region more vibrant.”
The funding comes from the Walton Family Foundation and will go towards creative collaboration and professional development to strengthen common areas such as diversity, equity, inclusion and access; board and leadership development; financial viability; communications; and storytelling, according to a press release.
Goals for the next two years are to provide non-profit groups with traditional learning pathways, such as workshops, listening and speaking with local and national thought leaders on various music industry topics that are relevant to each and share their feedback with each other, says Howard. But each of the learning opportunities will be informed of the first discussions with the nonprofit organizations. These are not prescriptive professional programs that could be suitable for any nonprofit group.
“We will only provide relevant learning for them,” Howard said. “We asked them, ‘what are the things you are most interested in; what are the most exciting areas of growth to discuss and discover in this group?’ So a lot of our subjects are driven by the band and their needs.”
The new coalition will develop talent and hold free shows and events throughout northwest Arkansas, according to the press release, but Howard said there were no set markers for each organization. The idea is to encourage and increase overall collaboration and understanding of others in the local music ecosystem, she said.
“We’re more cultivating a scene that’s been around for a long time,” Howard said. “For that to grow, it takes respect for the work that’s already happened and the talent that’s already there, and to create those opportunities… and give them the confidence that they know their audience and their goals.
“We’re excited to see him grow.”