In 2011, a group of Dayton community leaders asked a simple question: what can be done in a changing economic climate to make the performing arts in our community sustainable, accessible, and innovative? This community-wide conversation envisioned a new collaboration for Dayton’s performing arts: a strategic merger that would allow the Dayton Ballet, Dayton Opera, and Dayton Philharmonic to move together into a more secure and vibrant future.
At RSC, we are often asked if a merger with a peer company is a viable option. For many organizations, a merger’s benefits are obvious – shared staff, streamlined business functions, and integrated fundraising. The external environment, shared values, and fundraising capacity of each potential partner must nonetheless be evaluated beforehand.
RSC began an engagement with the new Dayton Performing Arts Alliance in 2015, following DPAA’s third year of operations. Artistically, the DPAA was strong with a nationally-recognized and artistically successful merger featuring unique, collaborative programming. The fundraising program, however, had yet to achieve its anticipated potential, and there was a pending financial shortfall ahead as start-up funding from national grant makers wound down. As a young organization, DPAA faced inevitable growing pains.
RSC was initially engaged to assess the fundraising program, provide recommendations to improve results, and match artistic momentum gained through the merger. After completing the assessment, RSC was retained to develop an aggressive, highly-customized, multi-year fundraising action plan, then partnered with DPAA during the first year of the plan’s implementation.