Unlock Success: How to Balance Creativity with Business in Arts and Culture Institutions

Two kids enjoy time playing in a science centre. Arts and culture organizations can thrive in a post-pandemic world through the integration of ERP software like Sparkrock 365.

A Canada without its arts and culture is a Canada stripped of its history and identity. These institutions serve as the keepers of our collective story, weaving the very fabric of our nation's heritage.

Arts and culture institutions play a fundamental role in shaping and celebrating Canadian culture. 

They reflect the dynamism and complexity of the nation, shaping the country’s history and identity. These institutions are the storytellers, the guardians of heritage, and the creators of narratives that bind communities. They also offer employment opportunities for numerous artists and enthusiasts, fostering a sense of connection and joy among everyone involved. Their absence would render Canada a less vibrant place, devoid of the rich tapestry that weaves together the essence of its people and their stories.

The Key to Future Success? A Partnership Between Art and Business

The pandemic devastated the arts and culture industry. Shows, festivals, and events were canceled. Many cultural spaces had to close to sustain themselves financially. Today, many institutions are in a period of regrowth and recovery from the last three years. There is huge potential for these spaces to emerge stronger than ever. However, transforming imaginative ideas into large-scale creations is only possible with major financial and artistic support. The key to future success in this industry is a balanced partnership between the creative and business sides.

Current Challenges Facing the Arts and Culture Sector

According to the Canadian Association for the Performing Arts, the pandemic recovery stage is considered complete and indicators now reflect a new, post-COVID reality. Current obstacles facing the arts and culture sector include:

  • Navigating uneven funding
  • Adapting to rising inflation and costs of essentials
  • Maintaining sufficient cash flow and managing debt
  • Recruiting and retaining employees
  • Addressing the shortage of skilled workers

Sparkrock 365 Solutions for Finance:

Navigating Uneven Funding

Arts and culture institutions often struggle to access adequate funding. Most organizations rely on a combination of grants, donors, sponsorships, and subsidies. Relying on grants, donations, and government support can be uncertain and requires constant effort in applying, tracking, and reporting. It’s not uncommon to see organizations so underfunded that they have to make significant cuts. As a result, these institutions miss out on opportunities to explore new projects or take new risks. 

An ERP solution can streamline financial management by providing accurate, real-time insights into budgeting, expenses, and revenue streams. Sparkrock 365’s system can easily manage the status of capital projects and grants in real-time and seamlessly connects your organization’s finances. This reduces errors and mitigates risk. Automating tedious administrative tasks also creates savings. Administrative spend is reduced by eliminating burdensome paperwork and manual processes.

Adapting to Rising Inflation and Costs of Essentials

Cost-related challenges rank among the highest concerns of arts and culture organizations. A full recovery to pre-pandemic revenue levels will be influenced by inflation and the costs of essentials. With current inflation rates holding steady, consumers continue to feel the pressure of rising prices. Organizations are no different, subject to the same rent hikes, energy prices, and general costs of goods and services.  

A purpose-built ERP system helps arts and culture institutions do the most with the limited resources they have. With improved reporting and analysis of accurate, up-to-date figures, management has the information to make data-driven decisions. The ability to drill down into records and gain full visibility into the organization provides the capacity to make informed decisions on how to run the organization. Building a data culture for your cultural institution can help you streamline these processes, which saves time and money.

Maintaining Sufficient Cash Flow and Managing Debt

Arts and culture institutions encounter persistent challenges with financial stability. These include unpredictable income due to seasonal fluctuations and reliance on inconsistent donations and grants. Maintaining their facilities and funding projects entails high fixed costs, often leading to a dependence on loans, which burdens their financial flexibility. Limited revenue streams, like reliance on ticket sales and memberships, contribute to ongoing cash flow gaps. This makes it challenging to cover operational expenses consistently.

Having the best handle on your finances means using the best tool for the job. Sparkrock 365 provides end-to-end visibility from purchase order to payment, with requisition approval workflows and automated orders based on pre-programmed approvals. It eliminates bottlenecks in the procurement process and improves budgetary controls. With Cash Flow Forecasting, you can gain greater accuracy in predicting how your organization’s liquidity will evolve.

Sparkrock 365 Solutions for HR:

Recruiting New Employees

Arts and culture organizations are more likely than other industries to anticipate obstacles related to recruiting skilled employees. These institutions are not only underfunded but they are also usually understaffed. The combination of limited resources, specialized skill requirements, and understaffing creates a challenging environment for arts and culture organizations when it comes to recruiting new employees. Finding individuals with the right skill set becomes a formidable yet crucial task.

Managing limited personnel is a balancing act that requires a robust ERP solution. Sparkrock 365 can streamline your hiring process with the ability to add, modify, and approve job requisitions.  HR can create positions easily and post them onto the external talent portal, offering registered applicants the ability to view and apply for listed positions. It’s adept at handling multiple assignments with different unions and can define and update pay grades based on union and employee agreements.

Training Underskilled Employees

Developing and retaining skills has become a prominent challenge at the creative and management level of the arts and culture industry. 58.6% of arts, entertainment, and recreation businesses report a skills gap in their workforce. That’s higher than the average of 56.1% across all businesses. If your organization’s workforce isn’t proficient enough to perform jobs at the required level, it can’t stay competitive. Quality training is necessary to ensure the future success of the industry. 

An ERP system can help HR gain better control and visibility over staff qualifications. With Sparkrock 365, HR can maintain ongoing qualifications, keep track of requirements, and track expiring qualifications. HR can also schedule and track training events. They can register employees for those events or allow self-registration. Because of its all-encompassing system, it can also be integrated with employee scheduling to eliminate double booking. This ensures that the organization remains fully staffed during training periods.

Retaining Skilled Employees

Once you’ve gone through the effort of recruiting and training new staff, the last thing you want is to lose them to the competition.  The ability of companies to retain and grow their employees and overall talent pool is critical to building sustainable and successful businesses. In MakingItWork, a survey conducted by Work in Culture, 60% of respondents identified work/life balance as a core concern. As a response, post-pandemic changes to the sector include more flexible work arrangements, like job sharing, hybrid schedules, and reduced hours.

It can be difficult for HR offices to manage the complexity of these arrangements when trying to meet staffing needs. mySparkrock, the self-serve portal of Sparkrock 365, creates a more efficient way to communicate and update data. Staff can update personal information, view absence balances, make time off requests, view pay statements, complete assigned tasks, review qualifications details, download tax forms, and view benefits details. All of this enhances the employee experience, and a content employee is less likely to look for other employment options.

From a management perspective, the integration of Power BI with Sparkrock 365 introduces a robust layer of staffing management capabilities, enhancing the ability to analyze workforce dynamics, visualize staffing trends, and make informed staffing decisions. It empowers HR professionals to analyze workforce data in real-time, identify staffing trends, and anticipate future needs using interactive dashboards and reports, all in tandem with mySparkrock. This integration makes it easier to address immediate staffing issues and also assists in strategic planning and decision-making. As a result, HR can ensure a well-supported, content workforce, reducing the likelihood of employees seeking opportunities elsewhere.

A Purpose-Built ERP Solution Is Your Partner for Long-Term Success

Arts and culture institutions play a vital and multifaceted role in Canada, contributing significantly to individuals and their communities. Statistics show that nearly nine in ten Canadians perceive personal benefits from engaging with professional performing arts including emotional, spiritual, and intellectual stimulation.

Additionally, Canadians widely believe that the community as a whole benefits at least as much as individual attendees from these cultural presentations. Some of the benefits include

  • enhanced community energy,
  • improved quality of life, and
  • a stronger sense of identity.

Sparkrock stands out as a purpose-built solution tailored to meet these distinctive needs of arts and culture institutions so that they can continue to fulfill their missions. With its ease of adoption and seamless integration across departments, Sparkrock empowers these organizations to thrive. it's designed to future-proof operations by ensuring monthly updates and continuous enhancements. Additionally, it includes industry-specific features that drive innovation, keeping pace with the evolving landscape of arts and culture.

Esteemed institutions like the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports have already leveraged Sparkrock 365, experiencing firsthand its transformative impact. Through Sparkrock's tailored capabilities, these institutions efficiently manage their operations, ensuring a seamless and enriched experience for both staff and patrons. Sparkrock bridges the gap between art and business, enabling institutions across Canada to thrive and continue their invaluable contributions to society.

Discover how Sparkrock can empower your arts and culture institution to thrive in Canada's creative landscape by scheduling a call with us today.

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