Mission & History
The Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI) was founded in 2001 as a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Its mission is to promote knowledge sharing, networking and financial independence for individual artists and creative entrepreneurs by providing business training, grants, and incubating innovative projects that create new program knowledge, tools and practices for artists in the field.
At the same time that CCI was being launched, a number of private foundations and arts funding agencies were also starting to look at the status and needs of individual artists in the United States. In 2000, a major study was commissioned by 38 funders nationally, resulting in a 2003 benchmark report produced by the Urban Institute in Washington, DC titled Investing in Creativity: A Study of the Support Structure for U.S. Artists. Click here for a copy of that report.
The Urban Institute study showed, and CCI’s field experience has affirmed, that artists have significant needs in multiple domains, including training and professional development, material supports, access to markets, public validation, information, and participation in larger communities and networks. Artists across the country are, in short, being woefully underserved.
It was in this context that CCI launched its first test product in 2002 with seed funding from the Small Business Administration - a business training workshop series for artists in Los Angeles called “Only For Artists Who Are Serious About The Business of Art.” Since that time CCI has gone on to develop and refine a growing suite of training, financial support and networking tools for artists throughout California, and nationally, that we believe enhance their self-sufficiency and, collectively, address a real market need.
In addition to incubating and producing new programs for artists in California, CCI is working with a network of innovative organizations in communities across the country as part of Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), a Ford Foundation initiative. As part of this network, CCI not only strengthens its own capacity through information exchange with other field leaders, but can also extend the impact of its most promising work through partnerships nationally.
CCI believes that by linking the natural creativity and tolerance for risk of artists and creative entrepreneurs to the latest business tools and practices, and by helping to connect them to new financial resources, and to one another, CCI can give artists the knowledge and economic independence needed to bring their work and ideas into the marketplace, and establish a new voice for artists based on their collective clout. This is our vision. Knowledge is power. Personal networks build community. And financial independence supports creative freedom. This is the Center for Cultural Innovation.