Pasadena’s ‘A Noise Within’ Theatre Group Tops National Ranking of High-Performing Arts Organizations

Published on Sep 2, 2020

A performance by the A Noise Within theatre group is pictured in this undated photo provided by the organization.

“A Noise Within” theatre group in Pasadena is causing reverberations nationwide, as the organization has been named to a national listing of the top 10 high-performing arts organizations.

The ranking is part of a study released last month by the SMU DataArts, the National Center for Arts Research, titled, “The Alchemy of High-Performing Arts.” In addition to identifying the nation’s best-performing visual and performing arts organizations, the study also listed 10 organizations that managed successful turnarounds following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and seeks to identify common factors that contributed to their success, according to SMU DataArts.

“The study shows a clear relationship between focus on mission, responsiveness to community,

and long-term nonprofit health and viability, and these are all values ingrained in A Noise Within’s culture,” according to ANW Managing Director Michael Bateman. “Our combination of artistic excellence and strategic leadership was an unshakeable foundation before the current crises and is now going to help us thrive as we imagine our work beyond the pandemic and improve our commitments to social justice.”

Some of the unifying factors behind successful arts organizations included mission alignment, organizational culture, adaptive capability, investment in marketing and fundraising and a multiyear horizon, according to the study.

“These factors led to short-term tactical wins for the organizations including a stronger brand, a high-functioning board, and relationship building and buy-in within the community,”” according to a statement from SMU Data. “The study goes on to highlight the immediate and long-term outcomes as the organizations grow into financial stability.”

SMU DataArts Director Zannie Voss co-authored the paper, which was commissioned by the Wallace Foundation.

“Our research has shown that success is not accidental or haphazard — it is achieved through a strong vision linked to a series of strategic decisions and outcomes,” she said. “While individual organizations are facing their own set of challenges, we hope this report will inspire new thinking about possible ways forward, while providing guidance to organizations for recovery and long-term sustainability.”

Bateman said the community is largely responsible for the success of A Noise Within.

“If read carefully, many A Noise Within supporters and board members will recognize their advice to us scattered throughout the report,” he said. “We’ve been tremendously fortunate to have access to wisdom and ardent support over the years and I hope those folks know what a rare gift they’ve given us.”

The report can be viewed online at

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