Institute Announces Pro Bono Strategic Planning Services in Rural Communities

November 06, 2018

The DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland is pleased to offer pro bono strategic planning services for up to five arts and culture organizations based in rural, semi-rural, or micropolitan communities.

Each planning process is valued at $75,000 and will be fully underwritten through a multi-year commitment by the University of Maryland to helping build capacity of cultural communities in the United States.

This initiative recognizes that the conditions experienced by arts and culture organizations in rural, semi-rural, micropolitan, or similar communities in the United States differ in meaningful ways from those faced by peers in urban centers, and that, as several recent studies have discussed, arts funding, engagement, and creation are often unique to these environments.

As such, the Institute, a national leader in capacity building and strategic planning for arts and culture organizations, seeks five partners with whom it will work to develop a long-term strategic plan that celebrates the unique assets of their organization, community, cultural history, and environment.

Through these processes, which will be run independently with each organization, the Institute and each participating organization will focus on long-term artistic and educational programming; marketing and communication; community and volunteer engagement; cross-sector collaboration; fundraising; and board engagement.

Specifically, the process will focus on financial diversification. According to one recent study conducted by USDA, funding for organizations in non-urban areas of the United States represents under 4% of the annual distribution of the 1,000 largest foundations supporting arts and culture in America. As such, this process will position participants as experts in a research initiative being led by the Institute to better understand and articulate strategies for resilience amongst arts and culture organizations in rural, semi-rural, and micropolitan communities around the United States.

The Institute will author each plan in close coordination with executive and artistic leadership, staff, board, and community leadership of participating organizations. Each of the five processes will be led by Institute President Brett Egan. Additional planning support may be provided from Institute specialist consultants according to the discipline and strategic direction of the organization (community-based creative practice, cross-sector partnerships, arts education, etc.).


The opportunity is open to organizations based in rural, semi-rural, micropolitan, or similar communities across the United States with a population of 50,000 or less. In addition, applicants are expected to:

  • have a history of at least five continuous years of programming;
  • have at least three full-time equivalent (FTE) staff members, although the program is equally equipped to work with large staffs;
  • have an annual operating budget of at least $250,000;
  • articulate a compelling set of objectives for the planning process, and convey broad based support at both the staff and board leadership levels.

The process is well-suited to organizations at a variety of inflection points, for instance (but not limited to) organizations seeking to address:

  • social, ecological, or economic change in their local or regional environment;
  • mission or program evaluation or re-alignment;
  • leadership succession;
  • sustained or accelerated growth;
  • crisis or uncertain future.

Program Details

For more information about the strategic planning process and the roles and time commitments involved, please download the application packet here.

The program is offered free of charge to successful applicants, underwritten by the University of Maryland.

Application Details

The application for this opportunity closed on Friday, December 14.

Applicants will be notified regarding the outcome of their application by January 15.

Program Contact

For more information or with questions, please contact Syrah Gunning at

1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 410        Washington, DC 20004        P: 301.314.0963     

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