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. Free for BA members and clients, and just $5 for others, 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:


January 19, 2021 at 2:00-3:30 pm EST

The Strange World of Grants Panels, with Rosalind Grush

Did you know that many grants, like the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts, are judged and scored by a panel of readers? That sometimes these readers have no prior experience in the arts? That your Program Officer may have little to no control over how your grant is scored?

Rosalind Grush (recently Co-Artistic Director of The Tank in New York City) joins 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. We’ll tell personal stories from the panel rooms, discuss how to approach panel grants, and air our frustrations with the process, while answering your questions. 

Rosalind Grush (she/her/hers) is a freelance grant writer and former Co-Artistic Director of The Tank, an Obie Award-winning non-profit theater company dedicated to new work by emerging artists. In her time with The Tank, she produced five shows nominated for Drama Desk Awards with four in the Unique Theatrical Experience category, and seven shows that were named New York Time Critics’ Picks. She spearheaded the organization’s move to a new venue, allowing the company to more than double its artistic output in a two-stage theater complex in Manhattan. She has worked in various administrative capacities with The Civilians, The Playwrights Realm, Ars Nova, Pearldamour, Wolf 359, Sinking Ship Productions, and others. She has been a script-reader for SPACE on Ryder Farm, Playwrights Realm, and The Relentless Theater Award. She has served on grant panels for the Department of Cultural Affairs of the City of New York, Brooklyn Arts Council, and A.R.T./NY’s Nancy Quinn Fund. She has been a guest speaker for classes at the Columbia University Graduate School of the Arts, The New School, Bard College, and more. In 2019, she received a citation from the NYC City Council for her service to the arts. She is a graduate of Columbia University and is currently pursuing an MFA in Screenwriting at UCLA.

February 19, 2021 at 12:30-2:00 pm EST

What Funders Want, with Conrhonda Baker

Building an institutional funding program can really stretch one’s patience. For groups with limited resources, it can be difficult to treat each funder as an individual, with unique interests and needs. With every rejection or piece of conflicting feedback from a funder, that little voice inside you screams, “What do they really want from us!?” 

This month, Conrhonda Baker (Founder and Chief Copy Editor, The Bese Saka) is here to shed some light on funding from the other side of the application process. We’ll discuss some basic, nonprofit-y things that funders look for, how you can prepare yourself for funder conversations, and when to decide “enough is enough” and stop applying. Join us for a candid chat about the real challenges you face when approaching funders as a small and mighty organization, and how you can best prepare yourself to overcome those challenges.

Conrhonda E. Baker’s passion for the performing arts is grounded in her dance background, sparked by taking after-school classes at a county-wide recreational facility in rural northeast Georgia. Having grown up with limited access to the arts, she understands the importance of exposing children to creative outlets and creating opportunities for artistic expression. She founded The Bese Saka in 2018 as a way to live out her Christian faith by actively intervening and building equity into the process of securing institutional funding support.

She currently serves as an advisor to The Albireo Group and her work with South Arts, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Alabama Dance Council, Vulcan Park and Museum, Birmingham Museum of Art, and Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation have given her extensive fundraising, government affairs, and program development experience. In addition to being a member of Women of Color in the Arts, the inaugural Port Authority Bus Terminal Advisory Committee, and Liquid Church, she serves on the Board of Directors for SOLE Defined and the Junior League of Montclair-Newark. Her favorite Bible verse is 1 Corinthians 9:26 (NLT Version). She holds a Master of Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies with a minor in Dance Education from The University of Georgia.

Connect with Conrhonda on LinkedIn

March 19, 2021 at 12:30-2:00 pm EST

A Year of Radical Change, with Randi Berry and the Indie Theater Fund

When New York City began shutting down; when plays and musicals and cabarets had to close down overnight, the Indie Theater Fund flew into action. After years of working hard to show the world that there was a different way to fund theater, the Indie Theater Fund was now leading the charge in getting much needed funding directly into the hands of theater artists across the city. Larger funders who had previously been hamstrung in their granting rules were now partnering with the Fund to grant money, and looking to Randi Berry and her Board for leadership.

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. How can we continue to push the philanthropy world to do better, while also pushing ourselves in the coming years? How can we work to ensure our post-pandemic arts community is more equitable, innovative, and radical in the years to come?

Randi Berry, Executive Director, has an arts advocacy, theater, and real estate background that spans over 20 years. She is a founding member and co-Artistic Director of Wreckio Ensemble,, a collective theater company that has been producing original work in New York City since 2000. Randi also specializes in contract review and real estate due diligence. She was Director of Operations for CBRE’s Investment Sales team for five years and then ran her own consulting business working on many of the largest commercial real estate transactions in history. Randi’s real estate work parlayed into Wreckio receiving free rehearsal for over a decade. Randi is the Executive Director of IndieSpace, which creates permanent real estate solutions for the indie theater community ( Randi is a board member of the League of Independent Theater and Chair of the Real Estate Committee. She has secured a 5,000 square foot rehearsal space for The League and has piloted a program that pairs theater companies with schools and exchanges free rehearsal space for educational theater workshops. Randi is a member of the Network of Ensemble Theaters and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She was named an Indie Theater Person of the Year in 2013 and an Indie Theater Hero and Influencer.  She was also inducted into the Indie Theater Hall of Fame in 2014. Randi was an Indie Theater Leading Light in 2015 and was given a citation for service to her community by the NY City Council in 2018. Randi lives in Astoria with her husband Sam and her son, Eli.

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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