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Navigating Uncertain Times: A Scenario Planning Toolkit for the Arts and Culture Sector

October 22, 2020
This scenario planning toolkit is designed to help arts organizations think through how to respond to what might affect them in the future.

What’s in the toolkit?

Created specifically for the arts sector, the toolkit presents four scenarios for the possible turn of events from 2020 to about 2025. Each scenario is based on a different outlook for two factors: the pandemic’s course and how people continue to respond to it, particularly in terms of live events. 

The toolkit is divided into three parts, each a separate document.

Best practices in scenario planning

The researchers looked at the literature on scenario planning across different sectors over the past 50 years and found several common themes. Scenario planning works best when it helps people feel comfortable in uncertainty, expands their thinking, confronts change and possibilities, and prepares leaders to adapt to events that could happen, rather than those they are seeking to create. This review offers a look at the literature of best practices and examples of other scenario-planning processes. 

A desk of art supplies and brushes, in Boston.

Key Takeaways

  • Long-term scenario planning can help guide your arts organization as you contemplate the future
  • This scenario planning toolkit is designed to help you think about how you might respond to potential conditions in the future 
  • The toolkit presents four potential future scenarios and their implications for creative activity, society, technology, the economy, the environment, and politics

Other Resources on This Topic

Video Conversation: Scenario Planning in the Arts

See how scenario planning can hep arts organizations think about the future and what their work might look like

The Alchemy of High-Performing Arts Organizations

Interviews with leaders of 20 high-performing organizations suggest that financial success begins with artistic excellence and cultural relevance

Arts Organizations’ Early Response to COVID-19 Uncertainty: Insights from the Field

More virtual content, more experimenation, and more emphasis on social impact could be features in the arts in response to pandemic and other uncertainties

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