Whether it is diagnosing current challenges and charting a path for the future, supporting advancement in a single realm of your work, or undergoing a comprehensive planning process with you, CultureThrive helps organizations flourish.
Denise Montgomery's extensive background leading and managing organizations means that she brings firsthand experience in what it takes to move organizations forward.
A proven success in refining, advancing, and--when appropriate--reinventing organizations, we can work with you to effect meaningful change and make real progress at your organization.
Examples of organizational development work:
I. Revitalization of the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs through Strategic Planning
When Denise Montgomery was appointed to serve as the Director of Denver Office of Cultural Affairs in 2003, the office was an underperforming agency of city government that was not viewed as particularly relevant by many in the arts and culture community. She had a huge charge ahead of improving the agency’s effectiveness in the context of limited resources as the City was $70 million in debt. To inform her approach as a new director and as a foundation for the strategic planning process, Denise conducted a comprehensive assessment of the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs’ policies and programs, researched best practices and new thinking in the field of arts and culture programs and policy, secured community input, wrote and published a comprehensive strategic plan, and initiated implementation of the plan.
Linking the strategic plan to the City of Denver mayoral administration’s five core goals was integral to the plan’s success. Denise designed a process to secure input from a range of stakeholders, which was important to the agency and City leadership and resulted in valuable contributions.
With a broad range of possible directions and activities, it was essential to stay focused on the overarching goals while thoroughly researching, identifying, and prioritizing possibilities. Denise was able to strike a balance of innovation and new initiatives that energized the agency and resulted in heightened community engagement while operating within the context of the office’s budget and staff resources. She also strategically grew the agency’s funding and staff.
Sample Initiative from Denver Office of Cultural Affairs Strategic Plan
Innovation based on trends in the field of arts and culture policy:
Denise significantly advanced creative economy development in Denver through policy, programs, and technical assistance by being the first in the United States to embed an Economic Development Specialist position within a municipal arts agency. This idea was the result of strategically identifying how to strengthen the commercial arts elements of Denver’s arts ecosystem based on research into creative economies and activities in both United States cities and international cities. The resulting signature program, Create Denver, is a multi-faceted program that has generated substantial positive change in the community and is frequently cited as a national model.
The resulting programs and initiatives from the strategic plan have been highly successful, engaging hundreds of thousands of community members and establishing the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs as a model municipal arts agency.
During Denise's tenure at the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs, the respected research firm and think tank RAND ranked DOCA as one of the most effective city arts agencies in the United States (sharing top ranking with the City of Chicago’s Cultural Affairs Department), as published in their report Arts and Culture in the Metropolis: Strategies for Sustainability. This independent ranking as part of a major research study was strong validation of the quality of Denise's work and accomplishments at DOCA.
Citywide surveys have documented that Denver residents view the city as having increased cultural vitality and believe that there are more opportunities to experience arts and culture.
The strategic plan served as the agency’s guiding document for years to follow, and the vast majority of programs and policies that came from the plan remain in place today.
II. Recreating Colorado’s Statewide Arts Advocacy Organization
into a Sustainable, Effective Organization
The Colorado Arts Consortium was a struggling statewide arts advocacy organization with unstable finances and weak participation by cultural organizations and arts advocates. Denise worked closely with Anthony Radich, Director of WESTAF, to re-envision a sustainable statewide arts advocacy organization and to ultimately launch the new organization, Arts for Colorado.
Denise was involved in planning Arts for Colorado from scratch, with thoughtful deliberation on all facets of the organization. Dr. Radich led this effort with his extensive experience in organizational development, cultural policy, and advocacy. Together they held numerous meetings with arts and culture leaders and supporters, elected officials, and lobbyists. Denise was deeply engaged in strategizing for the new organization, building support for the emerging group, managing the transition to the new 501c4 organization, recruiting board members, advocacy strategy, organizational communications, and organizational operations, all giving me firsthand experience in planning for and managing an arts advocacy organization.
Arts for Colorado remains a stable organization and has a 22-member board of arts and community leaders throughout the state. The organization employs the services of a respected lobbyist and is in proactive mode, communicating with arts advocates year round and working strategically, primarily in preserving and expanding state support for the arts. Arts for Colorado played a critical role in helping to reinstate $2 million in funding to the Colorado Arts Council’s budget in 2006, money that many feared would never be returned to the budget.
Arts for Colorado is recognized and valued by arts and culture advocates throughout the state.
III. Assessment and Redesign/Refinement of
Colorado Business Committee for the Arts’ Programs and Policies
Colorado Business Committee for the Arts (CBCA) was a well-functioning organization with a commitment to excellence and a desire to consider new possibilities rather than operate based on inertia. This work occurred during an economic downturn, which also necessitated some changes in programmatic offerings.
Denise conducted a thorough assessment of CBCA’s programs and made a series of programming recommendations focused on meeting identified needs while eliminating less effective offerings.
CBCA then launched a number of new programs that have effectively served the organization’s mission, its constituents, and the community. Strategic partnerships were one component of this work, and CBCA forged a partnership with the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, collaborating to advance cultural development of the metropolitan Denver area.
Denise collaborated with the Colorado Council on the Arts to create two robust public art information tools: an award-winning website, www.coloradopublicart.org, with public art policy and process information and resources, and a related brochure,Growing Public Art in Colorado.
In tandem with the assessment of CBCA’s programs—and in some cases driven by the programmatic work—Denise analyzed the organization’s policies. Through her research and recommendations, CBCA strengthened its organizational structure and processes via the adoption of a number of policies.
The programmatic changes resulted in a higher level of engagement among member companies, board members, and the business and arts communities. A measurable outcome was that membership revenue grew 38%, which in addition to increased revenue meant that CBCA reached thousands more community members with information and programs.
The new and refined policies created a smoother operating environment for the organization and generated efficiencies by having clearly established policies in place.
These programmatic and policy initiatives formed the cornerstone CBCA’s evolution as a thriving, respected arts service organization. Related to this work, Denise strengthened CBCA’s finances during her tenure, substantially growing cash reserves and overall revenues.