Strengthening Equitable Capacity

It is critical for every residency to create a climate where residency staff and any artists can connect, learn together, experiment, grow, and ignite change.

Equitable Capacity is a term coined by Artist Communities Alliance (ACA)'s Executive Director, Lisa Funderburke in 2019 and is defined as the facility or power to embody equity across all areas of an organization, specifically its policies, process, and practices. This workshop series was created by ACA in response to common challenges among artist residency programs and targets five key areas of organizational health: Identity, Program Design, Stewardship, Fund Development, and Operational Excellence.

During our Equitable Capacity Workshop series, intensives include nuts-and-bolts presentations from guest facilitators as well as interactive exercises and time spent in smaller groups for discussion and networking. In these sessions, participants:

  • Learn inclusive, practical frameworks to identify and understand barriers to your success;
  • Gain insights from industry professionals about strategies and approaches that work;
  • Connect with colleagues across the field; and 
  • Leave with actionable next steps to accomplish their goals.

Equitable Capacity Workshops are open to all. ACA members are eligible for a discounted registration rate. If you are a member and did not receive a code, please contact registration [at]

Upcoming Workshops

Please sign up for ACA's newsletter to be the first to know about the 2024 Equitable Capacity Workshops!

We offer sincere gratitude to all who presented + who attended this year's ECW series. 

Past Workshops

Beyond Boxes: Building Equitable Workplaces
Wednesday, May 17 + 24, 2023

The Equitable Capactiy Workshops for 2023 focused on how can arts organizations can better support staff members whose communities are systematically excluded from full rights, privileges and opportunities in society. What actions can be taken to create the conditions for these colleagues to thrive within your organization?

This two-part, two day workshop dove into the process necessary to assess current policies and staff culture, identify barriers to achieving or sustaining equity goals, and retain a diverse team.

Resiliency in Action: Artist Residencies & Mental Health 

Hands-on workshops to help artist residency staff and leadership strengthen their program's mental health resiliency and preparedness. 

Mental Health First Aid Training
Wednesday, June 14, 2023

This session provided Mental Health First Aid Certification, facilitated by an instructor trained by the National Council of Mental Wellbeing. 

Artist Residencies + Mental Health
Wednesday, June 21, 2023 

The final workshop session highlighted strategies for building healthy cohorts, developing an effective orientation, and creating safe and empowering spaces for residents and staff who are neurodivergent, mentally ill or undergoing periods of emotional stress.

Nuts + Bolts: Building Your Residency's Capacity
Wednesday, June 15, 2022 

Do you have policies and processes that guide your work? What plans and systems would improve your capacity and make your work more efficient and effective? How do you evaluate your organization’s risk?

In this workshop, participants learned how to develop and implement structured and standardized processes to support their organization and residency program(s). This workshop centered ACA’s Five Pillars of a Healthy Residency Framework Rubric* developed by Lisa Funderburke. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Map your current practices, process and policies
  • Learn more effective and sustainable ways to construct systems and policies 
  • Evaluate your organization’s risk
  • Understand basic tenets of business continuity

Guest artist and presenters:

  • Rachel David, Blacksmith, Sculptor and Designer
  • Lauren Ruffin, Interim Chief Marketing Officer, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA)
  • Meg Pohlod, Artist Residency Manager, Kala Art Institute
  • Amanda Kik, Co-director, Crosshatch Center for Art + Ecology

*Five Pillars of a Healthy Residency Framework Rubric developed by the Artist Communities Alliance design team: Lisa Funderburke, Executive Director; Edwige Charlot, Director of Community Learning; and Kate Strater Hogan; with generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Know Your Value: Fundraising Strategies for Artist Residencies
Thursday, June 16, 2022 | 1 - 4pm ET

Who has expressed interest in the resources and services you provide? How can you meaningfully engage your constituents to support your work? How do you translate your value proposition into a fundraising strategy?

In this session, participants learned how to create long-term strategies toward gaining (and keeping) fundraising support from corporate, individual and foundation sources. This workshop suggested ways to build a fundraising strategy that speaks to your context and community. 

Learning Objectives:

  • Reflect on your program’s unique value proposition
  • Evaluate your current fundraising strategy 
  • Learn ways to build and strengthen relationships with stakeholders and audiences

Guest artist and presenters:

  • Justice Ameer Gaines, Poet, Community Organizer and Activist
  • Jennifer Shropshire, Principal, Shropshire Nonprofit Consulting LLC
  • Megan Steinman, Executive Director, Denniston Hill
  • Mari Robles, Executive Director, Headlands Center for the Arts

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Crafting Thoughtful Artist Residency Experiences
Wednesday, April 27, 2022 

What do artists need to have successful residency experiences and how can thoughtful preparation set up residencies for success? 

In this workshop, based on the Thoughtful Invitation Framework developed by Lisa Funderburke, we considered proactive engagement frameworks to develop clear communication and expectations, provide inclusive access to artists and respond when things don’t go as planned. 

Participants left with the tools needed to develop their own artist-centered approach to community engagement, orientation and collaborative problem-solving.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the full artist residency experience
  • Assess your program’s culture and climate
  • Learn how proactive approaches lead to safer and more supportive artist residency experiences
  • Identify policies and practices to deepen support for artists and staff
  • Craft a unique welcome to your context and community

Guest Artist and Presenters:

  • Allison Maria Rodriguez, Interdisciplinary Artist 
  • Mollie Quinlan-Hayes, Independent Arts Consultant
  • Faythe LevineIndependent Arts Consultant
  • Lisa Funderburke, Executive Director, Artist Communities Alliance

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Trust + Transparency in Artist Engagement
Thursday, April 28, 2022 

How does your outreach process dictate the range of artists who apply? Are you providing artists with comprehensive and accurate information so they can determine whether your program is a good fit? How can residency programs evaluate their selection processes and set up juries for success? 

Whether you just launched your first call or are exploring ways to strengthen your process, this workshop examined important aspects of access in application and selection processes and provide participants with new tools to help support artists.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Reflect on your program’s barriers to access 
  • Evaluate your outreach, application and selection (jury) process
  • Improve transparency and access in your engagement methods
  • Gain new approaches to meet your strategic goals

Guest Artist and Presenters:

  • Joiri Minaya, Multi-disciplinary Artist
  • Deb Dormody, Former Deputy Director at Artist Communities Alliance
  • Fogo Island Arts (Fogo Island, Canada) 
  • The Fountainhead Residency (Miami, Florida)
  • Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (Skowhegan, Maine)
  • Lisa Funderburke, Executive Director, Artist Communities Alliance

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Beyond Ramps: Accessibility for Artist Residencies
Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Artist residencies should be spaces where any and all artists can take time to explore their creative potential and prosper in inspiring environments. However, there is no one-size-fits-all path to building the perfect residency.

By expanding our understanding of accessibility, we create new pathways towards more just, fair, welcoming, and inclusive artist residency programs — programs with LGBTQ2IA+ artists, BIPOC artists, parent artists, caretaker artists, and Deaf and disabled artists at the center. In this session, participants will learn, directly from artists and practitioners, how to assess their program and address barriers to accessibility. Guest contributors, presenters, and panelists include: 

  • Chloe P. Crawford, Artist
  • Elbert Joseph, Deaf actor
  • Alex Stark, artist, curator and queer disability advocate
  • Michelle Miles, Artist, Designer, and Interdisciplinary Researcher
  • Heather Watkins, Disability Rights Activist
  • Em Kettner, Artist
  • Charles G. Baldwin, Program Officer, Mass Cultural Council
  • Dr. Beth Bienvenu, Director of the Office of Accessibility, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) 
  • Edwige Charlot, Director of Community Learning,  Artists Communities Alliance

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Engaging + Selecting Artists
Wednesday, August 11, 2021

How can your outreach process improve the mix of artists who apply? What barriers are created by your application? How can residency programs evaluate their selection processes and set up juries for success? This workshop will guide you through the steps necessary to: Assess your current outreach and selection methods; Identify the barriers to achieving your equity goals; Engage diverse artist cohorts: and Develop and implement strategies to work with staff, selection panels, and partners to ensure a more equitable process. With guest presenters:

  • Dr. Brea Heidelberg, ISO Arts Consulting
  • Deb Dormody, Deputy Director, Artists Communities Alliance
  • Edwige Charlot, Director of Community Learning,  Artists Communities Alliance

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Thoughtful Invitations to Rural Communities
Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Residencies in rural or remote contexts often struggle to be transparent about their local histories and community dynamics, which can leave artists unprepared for the residency experience. What does it mean to extend a thoughtful invitation?  What can rural and remote residencies do to create supportive experiences from day one? What needs to be in place to thoughtfully receive and host the artists you invite into your community? How do you respond when things go awry?

This workshop will help you create equitable policies and practices needed for a culture of safety, trust, and transparency for artists and staff alike. We’ll consider proactive engagement frameworks in a rural community context to address issues around race and identity, culture, ethnicity, and violence. Following the Thoughtful Invite framework developed by ACA, you’ll leave with the tools needed to develop your own artist-centered approach to community engagement, orientation, and collaborative problem-solving. With guest presenters:

  • Brandi Turner, Co-Director + Co-founder, Mississippi Center for Cultural Production/ Sipp Culture
  • John Davis, Senior Policy Fellow, Rural Policy Research Institute; Founder + Director Emeritus, New York Mills Arts Retreat
  • Edwige Charlot, Director of Community Learning,  Artists Communities Alliance


A group of people sitting around a table, listening to the person at the head of the table speak.
Participants at the 2019 Emerging Program Institute. Photo credit: Jazz Castañeda.