Anne Bonnar has designed, supported and led the implementation of several organisational change projects including:
- design of mergers with business plans: Northampton Theatres, Horsecross Perth
- design and facilitation of change: Sheffield Contemporary Arts Forum
- major remodelling and change: Eastgate Peebles, Dukes Lancaster, Byre St Andrews
Three case studies where lasting benefits are evidenced are outlined here:
Yorkshire Dance is a regional dance agency involved in artist development, advocacy, community participation, education and running a building. In early 2010 BK was commissioned to undertake a strategic review when Yorkshire Dance recognised that its business model was unsustainable, a view supported by Arts Council England which had pulled back on its funding commitment. YD was doing too much and Anne Bonnar led them through an impact analysis as part of a strategic review which has, ultimately, led to a new business model and a major change programme which has refocused activities, recognised by ACE which has included YD in its new National Portfolio and given it a 47% increase in funding.
The project included a root and branch review of the organisation, its activities, governance, management, structures, systems, marketing, fundraising, use of building, competitive position and its relationships with artists, funders, other arts organisations, tenants, audiences and other stakeholders. As part of this review, we undertook a detailed feasibility study into the commercialisation of YD’s community dance classes. The Dance Yorkshire concept was developed, tested against the market and a commercial business model developed.
The project was in three phases: the review, the development of the business plan and the change project. The change project involved a change project group of the board and a change project team including senior executives of Yorkshire Dance led by Anne Bonnar to deliver a series of workstreams designed and managed to achieve measurable and specific outcomes within a timeframe.
The final evaluation of the project evidenced not only positive results for the organisation in terms of the business model, structures and systems but also benefits in working practices learnt through the project management.
Aberdeen Performing Arts
Aberdeen Performing Arts was created in 2004 as an independent company which in the first instance operated the two premier performing arts venues in the North East of Scotland, HMT Aberdeen (1470 seats) and the Music Hall (1100) which had previously been operated by Aberdeen City Council. It has recently taken over the Lemon Tree, thereby providing a sustainable and affordable business model for the 550 music venue and 140 theatre and dance space. BK has supported APA since its creation in business planning, support for its £8m capital development of HMT, a feasibility study for redevelopment of the Music Hall to become a centre for music for the North East; review and restructuring of Aberdeen Box Office, APA’s internal and agency sales unit; organisational development and management and staff restructuring.
APA is a model creative business, demonstrating increased the impact and effectiveness achievable through a single management organisation. Audiences have increased at the venues under APA’s management and the overall costs have decreased.
Abbey Theatre Dublin, the National Theatre of Ireland
Amharclann na Mainistreach/The Abbey Theatre is one of Ireland’s most important cultural institutions, with a global reputation as a national theatre which expresses Irish cultural identity. The activity, operations and style of the Abbey have continually evolved since it was founded in 1904 to reflect its political, social, economic, cultural and now technological context. But no matter what the specific shape and size of the Abbey at any point in its history, there are fundamental values which the Abbey has held and continues to hold and core activity it undertakes. It has assets and knowledge developed over the long term and it continues to have responsibilities to the public and the Irish theatre community. The Abbey is held dear by the Irish public and is valued by the state. The Abbey was the first theatre in the English-speaking world to receive state subsidy and the state and public have rallied to it at various points in its history. The public subsidy to the Abbey is substantial and the Abbey’s public value can be expressed in social, economic and cultural terms.
The evolutionary journey has not always been smooth. The Abbey suffered a major crisis culminating in 2004/05 as a result of a combination of structural and systemic weaknesses. As a result, there was a wholesale process of change from the top down. The company and corporate structure was radically altered and new management structures, systems and skills designed and installed. This major change was financially supported by the Government through the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism (DAST) and the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon and all its debts were cleared. In November 2005, the Arts Council provided an historic three year investment of €25.7m to the reconstituted Abbey Theatre.
Anne Bonnar led this process of change and has regularly revisited the Abbey to evaluate its progress.