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In this episode of Executive with a Cause, host Tammy Ven Dange chats with Francis Owusu, Founder and CEO of Kulture Break.

Kulture Break isn’t your average dance studio. Instead, it breaks stigmas and builds futures for young people. Still, the popularity of its programs and growth, in general, has its limits. Francis takes us through the challenges of recognising when service offerings need consolidation and avoiding the temptation to create programs specifically for funding opportunities. Stretching yourself too thin is another theme many listeners will relate to in his lessons.

Furthermore, online approaches that allow us to be ‘in multiple places at once’ aren’t unique in the COVID-era. Fortunately for Kulture Break, they adapted to online offerings prior to the Pandemic, highlighting the importance of being able to diversify and pivot for long-term sustainability. Listen in to also hear about balancing this diversification with preserving the organisation’s core mission and the value of a good team.

Thank you for listening to the Executive with a Cause podcast. Don’t forget to follow us on Apple PodcastsSpotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.

IT in Plain English

The digital space can feel full of buzzwords, and a common one leads to this week’s question – ‘what is the difference between an IT and digital transformation?’. Tammy provides her take on this and helps you identify if it’s all buzz or worth considering for your organisation.

Sign-up here to subscribe to the “IT in Plain English” newsletter. You can submit your question to Tammy Ven Dange by messaging her on LinkedIn, and maybe she’ll answer it on the show.

Topics from this episode:

  • 00 | Introduction
  • 20 | What is Kulture Break?
  • 40 | Transitioning from a passion to an organisation
  • 44 | Becoming a Not for Profit
  • 50 | Maintaining identity whilst sharing governance
  • 30 | Generating revenue
  • 00 | Navigating different income sources
  • 40 | Creating an inclusive space
  • 06 | Measuring qualitative outcomes
  • 15 | The impact of Kulture Break
  • 25 | Plans for the future
  • 00 | Finding good passengers for the bus
  • 15 | Identifying the hard skills in the NFP sector
  • 15 | Find out more

Quotes from Francis Owusu in this episode:

“We find that dance is one of those things that it doesn’t matter where you’re from. You don’t have to speak the language, you can come together and celebrate and communicate without words”

“When I came into the arts, I got an opportunity to express who I was. And people applauded. And people appreciated that…and I reflected on that and thought ‘the arts gave me that affirmation, that ability to build my confidence and esteem, what if it could do that for someone else?’”

“For the first three years I had another job, it (Kulture Break) was something I just did on a weekend…and then I made that transition to give 100% of my time to Kulture Break. When I first started, I was paying myself next to nothing, the passion and sweat was my payment. But then as we started to get more and more schools, I was able to pay myself something and also my team. And it just built from there”

“One of the key things has been a really strong and passionate mission. That has driven this organisation, that people may not understand on paper, but when they see it they get it. And that’s part of the nature of dance, that it’s such a visual thing and the atmosphere it creates when people come to see it, they understand what it’s about.”

“What I’ve found in the environment we create, is that it’s such an inclusive environment that people feel no matter their background, we have a space for them.”

“It has organically morphed into all these different things. And I think one of the interesting things is the learnings from that. What we found was every time there was a need, we would create a program to support that need. And I think we got to the point from a capacity perspective where we needed to decide what to focus on going forward. So we’re now reviewing our programs so we can have sustainability long-term for some of those services we’ve created.”

“One of our rituals is celebration. We want to celebrate you. So we have a jam circle and everyone claps and you do whatever moves you want, and everyone gets a chance to show who they are.”

“It’s very difficult to measure. And it takes years for that to be rolled out. So 5 to 10 years later we hear how we’ve impacted our participants. But at the time it’s very hard to measure something like a sense of belonging.”

“COVID really taught us about sustainability because we predominantly operate out of schools, which were closed. So, we had to look at how to diversify ourselves and consolidate our core areas.”

“One of the things we’re doing to achieve financial stability is to consolidate our really popular programs and see how we could replicate them.”

“I got to the point where I realised it wasn’t the mission or vision that was the problem. It was the people you have on the bus. You’ve got to make sure you’ve got the right people on the bus or you’ll have constant tension where you’ll see it one way and they’ll see it another.”

Links & Resources

Credits

Thanks to our Producer, Nick Whatman, and the entire team at Lonsdale St. Studio. Thanks also to our Digital Content Creator, Laura Kleinrahm.

 

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