Capacity Building Helps Us Help Local Artists

Jessica Swanson and Megan Wygant are participating in The Lab Capacity Building Program on behalf of E. Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts (CLARA). In her comments below, Jessica reflects on what participation in The Lab has meant for her and Megan, and what it might mean for CLARA’s work into the future.

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September 27, 2019

By Jessica Swanson
E. Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts

The Lab Capacity Building Program pushes you to evaluate yourself, and your work, from the inside out. Capacity building in the nonprofit sector takes many forms. From investing in technology in order to better manage donor engagement to helping nonprofits develop strategic fundraising plans, each organization’s capacity building needs are unique—and that’s true of the organizations that are participating in the first cohort of The Lab.

Jessica, at a recent meeting of The Lab

My organization’s Executive Director, Megan Wygant, and I see our participation in The Lab as an opportunity to invest in CLARA’s capacity to expand our community impact by providing programs that will help local artists acquire the tools necessary to build their businesses—skills like understanding basic marketing and sales practices.

When we entered the cohort, we had an idea of the direction we needed to go to begin building a suite of programs to support artists who are seeking professional development opportunities. What this experience in The Lab has done is give us tools to test information as we launch a new programming plan. By applying the skills we have learned in the sessions, we have been able to pivot more fluidly when necessary, and think in terms that let us iterate and consciously evaluate our work as we build our programs and workshops.

Participants in The Lab at a recent meeting

Through this experience, I have also been able to understand and build upon my existing strengths, both personally and professionally. The Lab represents my first formal professional development experience, so I did not know what to expect out of it, or myself, going in. We are now past the halfway point of The Lab’s pilot season, and results for me already include increased working efficiency and improved communication with leadership.

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I look forward to diving into the work we have left in front of us over the remaining months, and feel immeasurably grateful to have been selected for this opportunity. Big thanks to the Sacramento Region Community Foundation and Third Plateau for making this transformative experience possible!



By focusing on the root causes of local challenges, seeking solutions with long-term results, and supporting the organizations that tend to the vital needs of the capital area, we help create the conditions for meaningful transformation in the Sacramento region. 

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