BA Conversations

Conversations with arts professionals that are of interest to small and mighty arts organizations

What are BA Conversations?

At Benvenuti Arts, we mainly work with small and very small organizations just like you! This means we’re hyper-focused on the needs of those groups who are doing amazing things with limited resources; groups with strong community connections and uncompromisable values. Our consulting services and memberships are built around a deep understanding of your work and unique challenges, and our BA Conversations are an effort to address those challenges.

Each month, we’ll be having live conversations with arts professionals about topics that are of interest to small and mighty arts organizations, and we invite you to join! At about 90 minutes each, Founder Sarah Benvenuti will lead the conversation, but we’ll be sure to save plenty of time to answer your questions, too. So watch and learn or bring your own challenges to get advice from the people who know best. 

All conversations are Free for BA members and clients, and just $5 for non-members, these conversations will be intimate, practical, and undoubtedly, a bit of fun. We hope you’ll join us!

See upcoming BA Conversations or sign up to attend here:


May 12, 2021 12:30-2:00 pm EST

Licensing Your Mission with Kathy Damkohler and Rainah Berlowitz of Education Through Music

Sometimes, expanding your nonprofit doesn’t have to be about growing your organization. While some organizations decide to transition to a broader geographic scope, others use licensing as a way to expand their reach while maintaining their focus. And it’s not just for large nonprofits! In this Conversation, Kathy and Rainah of Education Through Music will talk about their journey into licensing, how they manage their relationship with affiliates, and things to consider if you are interested in heading down this path.

After reading media stories about the low-quality education New York City students received, Education Through Music founders Edmund Schroeder and Eldon Mayer decided they wanted to take action. After seeing first-hand a school utilizing music education to improve educational outcomes, they decided to collaborate in 1991 to provide music education to schools that did not have the resources to teach their children the arts. Since then, Education Through Music has grown into an organization that provides access to music education to thousands of children, giving them the access they deserve. What started in one school is now in more than 50 schools and provides access to music education to nearly 18,000 students. ETM currently has 3 licensed affiliate organizations in Los Angeles, Denver, and Boston serving over 19,000 additional students in total.

Katherine Damkohler is ETM’s founding Executive Director, and currently serves as ETM’s Director of National Activities. A long-time educator of urban children, she is a former teacher and school principal. As a principal, she led one school to a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon Award, for which she was honored at the White House. Over her 26 years of leadership at ETM, she has grown the program from serving one school to over 50 schools, and overseen the addition of affiliate organizations in Los Angeles, Denver and Boston. Through ETM, she is a national education leader, advocating for music education as a core subject for all children. She served on the Arts Education Council of Americans for the Arts during 2011-12, and is a member of the National Advisory Board of ArtsLearning. In 2014, Ms. Damkohler began partnering with the Ibáñez Atkinson Foundation to help guide the Foundation in bringing music education for children to Santiago, Chile. Ms. Damkohler holds an M.A. in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University. She lives in Pelham, NY with her husband.

Rainah Berlowitz serves as Director of Finance and Business Operations, and acts as ETM’s lead provider and coordinator of affiliate support and oversight. He received an A.B. in English from Princeton University and came to ETM in 1997 through the Princeton AlumniCorps’ Project 55 Fellowship Program. In 2005, Mr. Berlowitz was appointed a member of the National Board of Directors and President of the New York Executive Committee of Giving Opportunities to Others, Inc. (GOTO), a volunteer-managed 501c3 nonprofit organization. In 2009, he was elected to serve as the Chairman of GOTO’s Board. In fall 2011, he completed the executive leadership training as a participant in the New York Arts and Business Council’s Arts Leadership Institute. In Fall 2012, he was one of twelve nonprofit professionals from the U.S. and overseas selected to participate in the American Express Foundation/Aspen Institute Fellowship for Emerging Nonprofit Leaders. Rainah also plays guitar.

June 22, 2021; 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm, EST

Standing Out as an Indie Artist with Ana Fiore, Director, Grants & Services, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

Independent Artists can feel like the deck is stacked against them when seeking support. How can you stand out when up against different organizations of all sizes, or artists from many different disciplines? What is a funder really expecting of you?

We’re thrilled to have Ana Fiore of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council joining us to talk about how indie artists can represent themselves more fully, from demonstrating their capacity through past experience to better planning and budgeting, and more. As both a funder and an organization applying for funding themselves, the LMCC holds a unique space for understanding the philanthropic space and how artists can find the support they need. 

As Director of Grants & Services at LMCC, Ana Fiore oversees a roster of re-grant programs, awarding over $1 million in support of community-based arts programming throughout Manhattan each year; the SU-CASA program, connecting senior centers with artists to engage older adults in artistic creation and exploration; and other artist service and community initiatives within the organization. At the core of these programs are methods for increasing the range of support and resources available to artists. Prior to joining LMCC, Ana aided fiscally sponsored artists at the New York Foundation for the Arts in broad and distinct fundraising efforts from large foundation grants to small crowdfunding campaigns with a focus on amplifying public benefit and impact, and demystifying the fundraising process. She is passionate about contemporary dance and has had the pleasure of previously serving the Center for Performance Research, The Joyce and Danspace Project.

Past Conversation Topics Have Included:

The Strange World of Grants Panels, with Rosalind Grush 
who joined us for a chat about the reality of grants panels, both from the perspective of someone who has sat on plenty of them, and as someone who has written many grants judged by panels. 

What Funders Want, with Conrhonda Baker – who shed some light on funding from the other side of the application process. We discussed basic, nonprofit-y things that funders look for and how you can prepare yourself for funder conversations.

A Year of Radical Change, with Randi Berry and the Indie Theater Fund – a year later, almost to the day, after COVID-19 changed our industry indelibly, Founder and Executive Director Randi Berry joins us to talk about this change, what she has learned, and her hopes for the future.

Making Finance Your Friend with Jeanine Hall – who talked about what arts organizations should be doing to make their financial presence easier – no matter how small the budget – while preparing for a more sustainable future in plain language and the minimum amount of pain.

Meet Your Host – Sarah Benvenuti!

Sarah Benvenuti | Benvenuti Arts

Sarah Benvenuti is Founder and Lead Consultant of Benvenuti Arts. Sarah brings her operational excellence and fundraising skills to the table with experience that includes Managing Director and Director of Development of The Civilians, Managing Director of Curious Theater Company, and, currently, Benvenuti Arts. Since 2014, Benvenuti Arts has served over 60 small and midsize arts nonprofits in areas of fundraising and management. She has a B.M. in Music from Mercyhurst University and an MA in Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon University, and has taught workshops and led panels on fundraising, real estate, and management in the arts.


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