Post-it notes stuck to a glass wall as part of a brainstorming session.

Raleigh/Wake County Adaptive Leadership Circles Program

Designed and delivered by EmcArts in partnership with Raleigh Arts, the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts and the United Arts Council of Raleigh & Wake County

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About the Program About EmcArts About the Cohort Group Application Process Project Partners

The... program gives me clarity as our organization navigates the unknown. In this ever- changing arena that we’re in, adaptive leadership is a crucial skillset to develop. I’m especially glad to have learned this from EmcArts.

Prior Program Participant

The Office of Raleigh Arts, the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, the Thomas Kenan Institute for the Arts and EmcArts are partnering to offer a six-month peer cohort that uses a collaborative approach to improve organizational resiliency in the face of COVID-19’s constant disruptive change. Participants will affirm and strengthen the adaptive change and leadership capacities frequently found at the core of artistic process – the same capacities that contribute to flexibility, innovation and reinvention when addressing critical organizational issues. The program has been specifically designed to meet the needs of local arts and cultural organization administrative and artistic leaders. There is no cost to participate, and Raleigh/Wake County Adaptive Leadership Circle members will receive stipends of $350 upon program completion.

Download the Raleigh/Wake County Adaptive Leadership Circles Program Guidelines for all information below (PDF)

About the Program

Developed and led by EmcArts, this program is designed for up to 12 administrative and/or artistic leaders looking to strengthen their adaptive leadership capacities. This “Circle” will focus on building understanding and skills to lead in an adaptive world and organization.


  1. To gain an adaptive leadership skill-set
  2. To identify and articulate a leadership challenge related to your work/role and “dig into it”
  3. To develop and implement one or two small experiments with radical intent
  4. To develop, act on, and reflect upon two adaptive leadership professional development goals
  5. To build and be part of a collaborative cohort focused on shared learning and mutual support


Eight Cohort Sessions

Cohort members will participate in a series of paired virtual sessions that build upon each other. Each session will incorporate both learning adaptive leadership concepts and practices and sharing individual adaptive change experiments and learnings.

These sessions are scheduled on the following dates and times

  • Tuesday, September 15, 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday, September 16, 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
  • Tuesday, September 29, 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. 
  • Wednesday, September 30, 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
  • Tuesday, November 3, 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday, November 4, 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
  • Tuesday, November 17, 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday, November 18, 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. 

Three Participant Coaching Sessions

The program will include two virtual one-on-one coaching sessions with EmcArts facilitators, during which circle members will focus on personal adaptive leadership professional development goals, as well as on how to continue the work with the staff and/or others they lead. The third virtual session will be a small group discussion with the EmcArts facilitator, the circle member and 1-2 others from their organization to further embed the work.

Small Experiments with Radical Intent

Each participant will reinforce learning by working through a new or ongoing low-stakes, experimental solution to an adaptive challenge faced by their organization.

What are small experiments with radical intent?

Cohort Follow-Up

In January – March, local peer conveners will create follow-up opportunities for cohort members, based on group interests and priorities. Options include reconvening the group periodically, continuing one-on-one coaching sessions; and/or providing other support.

About EmcArts

Inspired by the arts, driven by a world in transition, EmcArts works alongside individuals, organizations, and communities as they take on their most complex challenges. Through advancing processes and practices of innovation and adaptive change, EmcArts strengthens the resilience of individuals and organizations in the arts and social sectors. Through carefully designed and facilitated workshops, coaching and labs, they create space and conditions to navigate uncertainty, test innovative strategies, and build adaptive cultures. Their practice is deeply influenced by the artistic process, which they believe has a unique power to unlock entrenched beliefs and open up new ways of seeing. Since 2005, leaders and their teams from over 250 organizations from all artistic disciplines have participated in EmcArts’ adaptive change programs, both in the U.S. and in Canada.

About the Cohort Group

While the Raleigh/Wake County Adaptive Leadership Circles Program is designed for nonprofit administrative and artistic leaders, having a diverse group of individuals who bring a range of perspectives and lived experience to discussions is critical. Equally important is having circle members who are curious about and open to change and change processes, and who have an appreciation of and tolerance for group process. Up to 12 representatives of Raleigh and Wake County arts and cultural organizations will be selected to participate in this program (maximum of two representatives/organization).

Application Process


To participate in this program, applicant organizations must be arts and cultural nonprofits located within Wake County that are exempt from federal and state income tax with Internal Revenue Service 501(c)(3) designation and that have well-established arts programming. Potential participants must be administrative or artistic leaders within their organization whose responsibilities include managing staff and/or others. 


The application period closed on Friday, September 4.

Evaluation Criteria

Applications that are complete and received by the deadline will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Appropriateness of participation by proposed circle member in terms of leadership and other organizational responsibilities.
  • Curiosity in and openness to organizational change processes by the proposed circle member, as well as a desire for learning through a shared peer cohort experience.
  • Potential ongoing impact of adaptive leadership circle experience on proposed circle member and organization as they continue to navigate life through a pandemic.


Notification of acceptance into the program will be made by email on Friday, September 11.



S.A. Corrin
Arts Grant Director, Raleigh Arts

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