BOARDway Bound Connects Business Professionals to the Arts

This September, ArtsWave welcomed 37 local business professionals as the 11th class of BOARDway Bound. This innovative arts board-training program provides participants with the tools they need to be an active and engaged volunteer, and then matches them with a local arts organization for an observership. 90% of past program participants have joined the boards of the organizations with which they were matched. To date, ArtsWave’s board leadership program has placed nearly 300 volunteers with local arts boards.

ArtsWave identified the need for a board training program eleven years ago through a series of conversations with small and mid-size arts organizations.  Smaller organizations often had a hard time recruiting Board members.  Enthusiastic volunteers hesitated to join arts boards because they thought that they lacked the expertise or means to be good Board members.  At the same time, local companies needed more ways to connect their high-potential employees to leadership training and opportunities. ArtsWave created BOARDway bound to provide that training and make the connections needed to build capacity for those organizations.

BOARDway Bound takes the mystery out of arts board service.  Information on best practices, industry trends, and the Greater Cincinnati arts scene is shared over the course of six sessions, as well as through videos and a document library.  The workshops include presentations by arts leaders, panel discussions, and case studies.  Topics range from fundraising and marketing to understanding arts budgets and non-profit governance.

The highlight of each session is the “speed-dating” night.  Each candidate has six minutes with a staff and board representative from each of 40 different arts organizations. Both the board candidates and arts clients are also armed with one-page data sheets on their perspective matches. It’s a whirlwind networking event that requires a map and a bullhorn.  “When we were trying to determine the best way to give each candidate the opportunity to meet with each arts group, the most logical method was the speed-dating format,” said Mike Boberg, Director of Signature Arts & Business Programs. ”It is three and half hours of exhausting, fast-paced action, but it pays off in the end with solid final matches.”

This summer, ArtsWave created a LinkedIn group for BOARDway Bound alumni that allows them to easily network and share stories from the field.  “I was interested in BOARDway Bound because I wanted to give back and become invested in the arts and the region,” said Amanda McDonald, Assistant Director of Constituent Development,CCM at The UC Foundation and a member of last year’s class. “The lessons that I learned specifically in governance and financial oversight proved not only invaluable to my career but provided me with the knowledge to be an effective member on the Board that I joined and to lead that organization to serve the community.”

Interested in participating in BOARDway Bound? The spring class will begin recruiting soon.  Contact Mike Boberg, Director, Signature Arts and Business Programs.