Helping funders and arts organizations realize their vision since 1996.

Success: Plan for it. Fund it. Measure it.

Success begins with a vision. Over the past two decades, the foundations, artists, and associations we’ve worked with have plenty of vision. It’s their ideas that can lead to effective funding programs, lasting partnerships, and — most importantly — great art.

It’s getting there — realizing your vision — where we come in.

“You got into the heart of what makes our organization tick… And, we sense your ongoing concern.”

—Jawole Zollar
Founder/Visioning Partner, Urban Bush Women

What’s New

ArtsForward. Callahan was senior advisor to Association of Performing Arts Professionals on the design and management of this new national initiative funded by the Mellon Foundation. In 2022 the program gave more than $2 million in grants to partnerships between presenters and artists, to support the performing arts field’s transition toward reopening its venues in the wake of the pandemic. Read a case study here

In March 2021 and November 2020, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, with Callahan and Candid, led  sessions for PEAK Grantmaking and Grantmakers in the Arts titled “Holding Ourselves Accountable: Measuring Progress Toward Equitable Grantmaking” to report on a pilot measurement effort within DDCF to evaluate its funding to ALAANA artists and organizations. Listen to a GIA podcast about the measurement system here

Until 2020, our firm led the design and management of Dance/USA Fellowships to Artists, a $1.9 million program that, with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, supports individual dance artists who address social change in communities. In December 2020, a second round of funding was announced. Read the story of how this program was created and its results. Or, learn about our management and evaluation of funding programs here. 

In 2020, the Association for Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) and Callahan Consulting released “Small and Mighty: A Study of Small and Midsized Presenting Organizations in the United States,” shedding light on the circumstances and needs of this large group of presenters across the country. This study includes a supplement on the impact of COVID-19 on these presenters.

As Affiliate Researcher at the Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment (CREA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in 2020 Callahan published an article about the effects of COVID on the arts industry.

In March 2019, Grantmakers in the Arts published Suzanne Callahan’s article entitled Frequently Un-Asked Questions: Ten Tips to Assess the Integrity of Arts Studies in its GIA Reader, here.

In October 2018, Grantmakers in the Arts published Suzanne Callahan’s article entitled Opening the Eyes of the Beholder: The Need for Cultural Responsivity in Evaluation in its GIA Reader, here

Plan for it.

Whether it’s a foundation that is creating a funding program, a theater that is strengthening its connection with audiences, or a national association that is revamping its member services, our planning process is grounded in research. By research, we mean tailoring questions and gathering specific information that prepares you to make good decisions about your program or organization’s future. And, knowing that thorough planning is critical to ensuring fundraising success, we can facilitate the planning process while developing fundraising strategies and proposals.  

Fund it.

Distributing and obtaining funding are different sides to the same, competitive process. Funders must balance competing priorities and justify portfolios to their boards and sometimes to the broader community. Nonprofits must make a strong case for support, backed up by solid plans and sometimes evidence of impact.

Realizing the need to strategically allocate dollars and proactively assess their impact in today’s economy, our philanthropic counsel to foundations and other funders is based on 30 years of experience as a national funder.

Our insight and expertise in fundraising for nonprofits draws from that philanthropic background, and is augmented by our status as Certified Fundraising Executives. We offer diversified skills in development planning, grant writing, direct mail, capital campaigns, and other crucial areas, with a high track record of success.

Measure it.

For funders and nonprofits, the demand for accountability is high – and it’s here to stay. Our evaluation services integrate the insights and experience of 40 years in the arts with a firm grounding in research methodology. Our approach allows you to choose from progressive alternatives for evaluation services that are tailored to your artistic mission.

Our national research aids funders and other organizations in identifying and learning about key issues that affect their work. The new information we provide, sometimes coupled with facilitated conversations, allow you to make informed decisions that clarify your purpose and build community.

Learn how to achieve it.

  • From conferences to artist gatherings to management meetings to board retreats, our approach to training and facilitation is inclusive and results-oriented, encouraging lively debate that leads to insight and action.
  • Our publications raise visibility for current issues, artists’ visions, and national trends.
  • Our guides, written specifically for artists and arts organizations, increase skills and understanding. Offered for free on this site, they are designed to support artists, orient new staff, refresh the memory of more seasoned arts professionals, or be distributed as training materials to board members.

What sets us apart.

We are administrators and artists that together have decades of experience as national funders and policy makers. We have advanced degrees in the arts and education, and graduate level training in research. We have received national awards in our areas of expertise and have published books and articles. And, in line with our mission and values, we’ve built strong and trusting relationships with our clients, and value their endorsement of the results.

Above: Urban Bush Women in Women’s Resistance. Photo by Hayim Heron.