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Strategic Plan

  

 

Introduction

The Board and staff of the Coalition of New Canadians for Arts and Culture (CNCAC) developed this strategic plan to guide the work of the organization over the period from May 2012 through June 2013, and to set the stage for work beyond that timeframe.  Appendix A sets out the process used to create the strategic plan, and Appendix B includes the Environmental Scan that helped inform the strategic plan.

 

Mission

 The CNCAC supports the diverse interests of new Canadian immigrants and refugees, including youth and community groups, who wish to be actively engaged in arts and culture, so that Canada will continue to evolve as a model, multicultural society. (from the website)

Vision

 Our vision of the future is:

·      CNCAC has a local, provincial, national and international presence, including a space, a vast network of individuals and organizations who are part of CNCAC, and a national reputation and audience.

·      Immigrant artists are showcased everywhere across Canada – in galleries, performance spaces and public places and on the web.  Some of these environments are provided by CNCAC, but many are the spaces of our numerous partners in all sectors.

·      CNCAC has an important influence on governments, other organizations, business and society at large, and has helped shape Canada to be welcoming for all immigrants, including immigrant artists.

·      CNCAC is a flexible, versatile and innovative organization that is constantly adapting to change and creating new ideas, programs, services and initiatives.

·      The organization has a strong sustainable resource base, including funding, people and infrastructure.

·      All of the work of the Coalition is based on and consistent with a clear set of values, principles and ethics.

“We are grounded dreamers.”

Context

 There are several key audiences who are important to the success of CNCAC.  What the needs and priorities of each of these groups

 

Strategic Priorities

 1.   Communications: to develop and implement a communications plan that sets out how we will communicate with each of the audiences, including an improved website.

2.   Financial sustainability:  to ensure the financial sustainability of CNCAC through grants, revenue generation and fund-raising.

3.    Events:  offer regular events in order to connect with subscribers, raise the visibility of the organization, and provide networking, profile and information of use to artists.

 4.   Partnerships: to develop more partnerships in the arts and ethno-cultural communities, and through these, to enhance the profile of immigrant artists and their access to events, activities and resources, and to increase the visibility and reach of CNCAC.

5.   Membership: to define the categories of members and supporters, and to ensure an accurate and current list.

 6.   Governance: to adopt by-laws for the organization and terms of reference for the Board and volunteers, to formally elect the Board, and to recruit and integrate volunteers to support the work of the organization.

 7.   Administration: to provide logistical and operational support for the work of the organization.


All of these areas are important, and CNCAC will continue to work to some degree in each of them, as time and resources permit.  However, the critical priorities for the period of this plan are:

·      Financial Sustainability

·      Communications

 

Appendix A: Strategic Planning Process

Step 1. Deciding on the process

The Board agreed on the process to be used to create the strategic plan.

Step 2. Environmental Scan

a)    Survey of subscribers:  subscribers were sent an email with a link to a short survey on SurveyMonkey (attach questions)

b)   Interviews with stakeholders:  the two staff interviewed a range of stakeholders, including former Board members, arts organizations, funders and others (attach questions)

c)    The results of the survey and interviews were summarized in an Environmental Scan report

 Step 3. Strategic Planning Session

The Board held a one-day working session to review the Environmental Scan, review the mission, create a vision, identify priority areas for attention in the next 18 months, and develop detailed action plans for each priority.

 Step 4: Draft Strategic Plan

The results of the Board working session were used to prepare a draft strategic plan.

Step 5: Final Strategic Plan

The Board reviewed and revised the draft strategic plan, and approved the final version.

 

Appendix B: Environmental Scan

 

CNCAC Strategic Planning Process

Environmental Scan Summary

April 18, 2012

 As part of its strategic planning process, the Coalition of New Canadians for Arts and Culture sent an online survey to subscribers and conducted a series of interviews with stakeholders.  Catalyst Research and Communications was asked to prepare a report summarizing the environmental scan information.  A total of 29 survey responses and 23 interviews were received, and more interviews are ongoing.  Gabriela López and Maria Gomez are to be congratulated for gathering this wealth of ideas from a wide range of artists, funders, and people working in the field of arts and culture who care about the Coalition.

 Overall, the impression of most people about the Coalition is quite positive, and they feel it is improving and strengthening its work, and has great potential.  However, it also became clear that CNCAC is not well known in the arts community, and several organizations and individuals interviewed knew little or nothing about the organization.  Finally, one or two individuals feel that the Coalition does not meet the needs of artists.

 Some of the key themes emerged from the information gathered, and these are highlighted below for the consideration of the Board, along with the many detailed suggestions received.

1.  Promote Artists 

One of the crucial roles of the Coalition, in the view of stakeholders and subscribers, is to promote immigrant artists, for example through the following:

·      Feature their work on the Coalition’s website, and provide a link to the websites of individual artists

·      Set up a web-based art gallery to enable artists to sell their work, including downloading music for a fee

·      Create a directory of artists 

·      Encourage others to host exhibits, using spaces around the city, e.g. Shenkman Centre

·Flash exhibits: Opportunities for visual artists and performers to show their work during the day, in accessible venues, in an inexpensive way for them to start building local experience and recognition.

·      Negotiate agreements with public spaces (libraries, community centres, public buildings, etc.) to regularly exhibit the artists’ work

·      Organize a World Art Fair or other annual festival to promote artists (artists would donate some of their works to cover the cost of the event, and would sell their works at the event)

·      Organize studio tours

·      Use media (e.g. program on Rogers that features people from different countries) to promote artists

·      Encourage more media in the city to have art critics, and for them to include immigrant artists in their reviews.  Also it would be important to have an art critic who is immigrant.

·      Participate in the City’s “Culture Days”

·      Create a CNCAC gallery or arts centre where artists can perform and exhibit

·      Hold a Job Fair for artists

·      Encourage artists who meet the Ottawa Art Gallery criteria to apply for free membership

·      Facilitate the exchange of artists between Canada and immigration source countries

 In addition to promoting specific artists, there were a couple of suggestions to undertake more general advocacy to address some of the stereotypes about immigrants, as these undermine immigrant artists as well. There was also a suggestion that CNCAC offer courses in music, perhaps as a way to feature musicians and assist them in earning a livelihood.

2. Help Artists with Skills and Contacts

 “It is very hard for us to find information and support. You can be that support showing where the studios are, how to apply, where to go. Making art is not the problem, artists know that, it is finding ways to show it that is very difficult.”

“Show artists how to survive in the art market and how to represent ourselves more professionally, information about job opportunities in related fields could be also helpful, connections, links to another art professionals in the city, writers, media etc., meetings with those established professionals.”

 Artists need support to learn key practical skills related to developing and sustaining a career in the arts.  The topics that were mentioned include:

·      Preparing a portfolio or CV

·      (for visual artists) Working with different types of galleries (municipal, commercial, artist-run)

·       (for musicians) Finding and working with presenters, managers, festivals, recording studios, etc.

·      (for writers) Advice on how to get published

·      Finding representation

·      Marketing and promotion

·      Presentations from or about the various funding bodies and councils, and how to submit funding proposals to them

·      Organizing your own exhibit, performance, etc. – finding a venue, promotion, finances, sponsors, etc.

·      Connections to arts organizations and other groups of artists

·      Other business skills, e.g. financial skills, computer literacy, etc.

·      Psychology of adaptation focused on specific challenges of artists

·      Creativity coaching

Formats for providing this support and learning include:

·      Workshops and presentations

·      Coaching and mentoring

·      A teach-and-learn festival

·      A 10-week course to cover all these topics in depth

One stakeholder commented that it was important to expose artists to many types of settings, so that they are comfortable with major arts venues, with community settings and with the business sector. 

3. Community-Building and Networking 

“Activities that are community-building/networking/social events (group exhibits, musical events, for example), because it is hard being an artist, and hard to adapt to being an artist in a new environment, and connecting with other people is great for the morale, apart from any other practical purpose it may have!”

It is important that artists have the opportunity to connect in person (not just via the newsletter or website) with one another and with others in the wider community.   One stakeholder referred to this as “community-building”.  Although many of the activities listed under the first two themes could cover off this need for person-to-person connections and networking, it is important to keep it in mind as a function in itself.

Several of the comments from artists, both in the stakeholder interviews and in the survey, underlined how valuable and nourishing it is to meet other artists, exchange with them, gather confidence from them, and provide support to each other. 

In addition to the workshops, fairs, etc. highlighted above, some ideas for this social networking include:

·      Salons or social gatherings, where people informally chat and share ideas over food and drink.

·      Katchaputcha: where people are given 6 minutes to talk, sing or share what they do in some other way, and in an hour 10 people can connect very efficiently.

·      Coffeehouses to bring together artist.

4. Build Profile and Partnerships

CNCAC needs to become much more visible in the arts community and in the community generally.  Although there are many arts groups, the Coalition is the only one focused on New Canadians, and this makes the organization unique.  Strategies are needed to reach out and engage with more artists, with a wide range of arts organizations and other community groups, with the business community and with the general public.  Ideas for raising the organization’s profile and presence include:

·      Approach business organizations (e.g. Chamber of Commerce) to involve them in various ways, such as exhibiting art works in their offices on a rotating basis

·      Use social media to promote CNCAC and promote artists

·      Distribute brochures about CNCAC in libraries, cafes, art stores, etc.

·      Hold an open house 

·      Consider special strategies for reaching youth

·      Work with other arts organizations and immigrant organizations to access their membership and clients

·      Get CNCAC people on the boards of other arts organizations

·      Publicize the associate members of CNCAC to attract other members

·      Have a CNCAC booth at major cultural festivals, e.g. Blues Fest

Partnering with other arts organizations was seen as key to the CNCAC’s success, both as a way to improve its reach and profile, and for access to ideas, skills and support from other organizations.   Collaborating with immigrant and other community agencies was also mentioned, although less often.  One stakeholder suggested working with embassies.  

All the organizations interviewed expressed their willingness to collaborate with CNCAC.  For example, the Ottawa Art Gallery offered to collaborate on exhibits and studio tours for professional artists, and also said they would be interested in hosting the CNCAC AGM at their locale.  OCISO offered to share information about CNCAC with their staff who could in turn share it with clients.  Red Cultural Hispanica  offered to share information about CNCAC with their members.  There are other similar examples from other organizations.

Feedback received also suggested that CNCAC reach out to other organizations in the community, such as the Newcomer Information Centre at the Y, the Youth Services Bureau immigrant youth program, and various ethno-cultural groups.

The main types of cooperation suggested were:

·      Asking partners to put a link to the CNCAC website on their website

·      Collaboration on exhibits, performances, studio tours, etc.

·      Co-sponsoring grants and awards

·      Cross-promotion of events and exhibits

·      Talks and presentations by CNCAC staff to other organizations or at their events, as a way to reach their members and clients

·      Join Catalyst, a network of arts organizations who support each other

“As the director of an arts organization (SAW Video), CNCAC is not as visible in the community as it could be.  At SAW Video, we have many members who would be interested in CNCAC, but don't know about it.  Sending us a short description and link to website for us to put in newspaper would be a good outreach tool.”

Alliances with arts organizations in Toronto and Montréal were also recommended, such as Arterre or Creative Trust. 

5. Build CNCAC  

CNCAC need to devote some energy to its own development, as well.  Several stakeholders commented that it is important to create a clear vision for the organization, focus the efforts on concrete goals, and constantly compare our progress to the goals we have set. 

It was pointed out that there are many tools and information sources to help CNCAC do this organizational work, and it is not necessary to “reinvent the wheel”.  The United Way, Volunteer Ottawa, Human Resources Council for the Voluntary Sector and BoardSource are some examples.

Some specific suggestions include:

·      Settle into our own space, or move around to locate CNCAC in different buildings, as a way to establish our presence with various organizations and different parts of the city.  If CNCAC wants to move into Arts Court, OAG offered to help with the process.

·      Strengthen and expand the board and committees, including involving people from the business community

·      Apply for internships

·      Ensure CNCAC conforms with new regulations about non-profit organizations

·      Find sponsors for CNCAC

·      Start a social enterprise to raise funds for CNCAC

·      Expand to create CNCAC branches in other cities (e.g. Julia Jacobi offered to start one in Toronto). If CNCAC decides to do this, the Ontario Coalition of Agencies Serving Immigrants could be approached to circulate information on CNCAC to its member agencies throughout Ontario.

·      Work with the Council for the Arts, a lobby group

·      Participate in municipal discussions about arts and culture

Several survey respondents offered to volunteer with CNCAC

Further suggestions about specific activities by CNCAC (events, newsletter and website) are summarized below.

a)  Events

The survey asked about events people had participated in, and solicited their comments on these events.  The “Belonging” exhibit at the Shenkman Centre and the Fieldwork session were commented on the most frequently (6 comments each out of 29 responses) and also the most positively.   About “Belonging”, people said it was successful, had a great turnout, amazing art and one artist said “it motivated me to exhibit more often”.   About Fieldwork, people said it was a wonderful day, fun and creative, provided special moments in nature, and above all, was a great opportunity to meet other artists. 

Also mentioned positively, but only by one or two people, were: “Access and Career Development” session by JP Melville, the AGM, “Mentoring in the Cultural Sector”, and the Music and Painting workshop and performance in Perth. 

One comment said that CNCAC meetings felt “corporate” and the person was unsure how to participate.

b)  Newsletter

Based on the survey responses, the average rating (out of a possible 5) was 3.8 for content, 3.8 for design and 3.6 for frequency, which is very positive.  Many of the stakeholder interviews also highlighted the newsletter as a strength of CNCAC.  Comments from the survey and interviews included:

·      issue newsletter more frequently if possible, perhaps monthly

·      design has improved; design is too dense

·      improve the links

·      should be in both official languages

·      target it to institutions, partners, etc. and focus on stimulating a market for immigrant artists

·      events are very Ottawa-based: is it possible to have a more national focus?

·      some  commented that their newsletter simply stopped coming at one point

c)  Website

The most common suggestion for the website was to showcase artists, in the various ways mentioned previously.  Another suggestion was to provide more links to other arts organizations, and to encourage those organizations to post a link to CNCAC on their websites.  

The material on the website needs to be as current as possible, and regularly updated.  It was pointed out that if the material on a website does not change fairly frequently, some people will stop going there.  It might also be worthwhile to use wording on the website that ensure that it comes up high on a Google search 

There were some comments to improve the design of the website, including making it easier to navigate, more colourful and more interactive.  The Grants and Employment section in particular was not as helpful as it could be, because artists need to comb through all the bulletins to find funding sources. 

Conclusion

Overall, there is a great deal of interest in seeing CNCAC grow and succeed, a willingness on the part of many organizations and individuals to help, and a large number of suggestions to consider.  The Board will need to sift through these ideas in light of priorities and focus on those that are most relevant and feasible.
Appendix: Useful Contacts Recommended by Stakeholders

Artengine http://artengine.ca/

AKIMBO http://www.akimbo.ca/

The Ottawa School of Art http://www.artottawa.ca/osa-eao/index.php

Enriched Bread Artists EBA http://enrichedbreadartists.com/

AXENeo7 is an artist run centre http://www.axeneo7.qc.ca/

Daïmon http://www.daimon.qc.ca/

“Diversite Artistique Montreal” http://www.diversiteartistique.org/index.php

 “Arterre” http://www.artere.qc.ca/fr/accueil.php?page=accueil

 “Conseil des arts de Montreal” http://www.artsmontreal.org/en

 Toronto has the “Creative Trust” http://www.creativetrust.ca/files/homepage.htm

Immigrant Art and Culture Organization, Hamilton http://www.immigrantart.org/

Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto http://socialinnovation.ca/

 Shenkman Centre: www.shenkmanarts.ca

Conseil régional de la culture de l'Outaouais http/info@crco.org