What can an accelerator do for an organization that has been firmly anchored in its South Side community for more than 45 years? Plenty, according to Kemati J. Porter, producer and artistic director for eta Creative Arts Foundation. “People assume that legacy institutions have a leg up because they’ve been around a while,” she says, “but we’re now talking about how to connect with the generations coming up so they see it as their legacy institution.”
“Being part of the Accelerator taught us the value of reaching out and finding people who can answer questions, open doors, and provide a resource."
An arts and culture nonprofit that provides training and performance opportunities for youth and adults, eta joined the Accelerator’s core program in 2016 after surviving the economic downturn plus a fire that badly damaged its building. After taking over as eta’s interim executive director in 2014, Porter says, “the first thing confronting me was, how do I find and develop the collaborations necessary to keep eta at the forefront of what it does?”
The Accelerator, she says, opened doors to collaborations by connecting eta with expert help in everything from grant writing to marketing to arts law. And when eta was ready in 2018 to plan its national search for a new executive director, UChicago human resources experts helped craft and disseminate the job description. “They enabled us to think through and plan out what our next steps needed to be, one of which was to bring in new leadership from a different generation,” Porter says.