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#2 Who We Are Wednesdays

What does an Arts Council Do Anyway? Part 2: The Purpose of Programming

Who We Are Wednesdays: What does an Arts Council do anyway?

So you’re an Arts Council with a mission to make life better for everyone via the arts – but your organization doesn’t produce events, doesn’t teach people art, and no one is making art in your office. In fact, your organization is made up of a bunch of arts cheerleaders. So how exactly do you go about doing the whole ‘fulfilling the mission’ thing? Well, to make a long story short, programming.

The Prupose of Programming

At ACNV, our mission is to “provide leadership that unites, supports, and enhances our exceptional arts and culture community.” Sounds great, right? The chalenge is this; there isn’t an instruction manual for how to achieve that amorphous goal. The good news is, a mission shouldn’t be perscriptive, it should be a guiding light. Programming can be thought of as the inner workings of a machine, the cogs that push the larger idea forward.

You’re probably wondering where the ideas come from for our programming at ACNV. We collect ideas from a few places;

1) From the requests and desires of our artists here in the Valley

2) Other thriving arts communities

3) People who want to employ people who work in the creative economy

We are lucky to have strong board of directors who are all members of the community, who the lynch pin ideas that shape those progamming decisions through the creation of our strategic goals (2018-2021), which are currently as follows:

Goal 1: “Champion and position engagement in arts and culture to enhance quality of life for all residents.”

Goal 2: “Empower the arts community to build their own successful creative endeavors to foster a vital arts scene and enrich the local environment”

Goal 3:  ”Ensure that the Arts Council’s work is reflective of Napa County’s diverse population, embodying our value that self-expression is everyone’s birthright”

Goal 4: “Sustain excellence in mission-driven programs and services to ensure the future of a culturally thriving community”

Keep in mind that we leave the creation, presentation and teaching of art to the community we serve. ACNV moves our goals forward by looking for issues that need solving in order to help to sustain the arts and culture of Napa County. Things that would be difficult for an individual person to do on their own.

The cogs in our machine include:

The Creative Directory Napa Valley: Our local talent directory. We are pursuing hiring organizations and businesses and convince then to hire locally. We work daily to fill it’s roster and manage its upkeep. It’s hard to have a thriving arts scene if the people who want to hire/buy/learn from local creatives can’t find them or don’t know they exist.

The Community Fund Grant: The only grant in Napa County that offers funding to individual artists and small nonprofits. We want to remove the intimidation factor, the monetary matching barriers, and provide a way for funds to directly benefit the artists that live within our valley walls so they can in turn make life richer for all of our residents. This puts the power to create into the hands of our artists. We offer advice on how to lay out your idea to apply, and we are happy to offer feedback once you’ve gone through the process – whether you’re awarded or not.

The Insider Link: Our industry serving program, where we host industry mixers, professional development workshops, and offer a monthly newsletter that delivers industry information pertinent to Napa County artists right to their inbox.

State of the Arts Summit: Reinvented for the Fall of 2019, this program will become a place to talk about the big ideas facing the issues affecting the Arts in Napa County, adressing the intersection between the arts and our community. This coming summit will examine live/work and creative spaces in Napa County.

Education Alliance: Last but not least, advocacy. Specfically arts education advocacy. In order for our gaols of a sustainable arts and culture community to exist, there has to be a next generation of artists and that requires constantly fighting for the arts to be maintained in public education. The Education alliance coordinates and organizes efforts to speak up for the arts in the school districts within Napa county. What does that mean? That means leadership meetings to organize teachers, meeting with PTA groups, ensuring we are all communicating the same message and recruiting manpower to help drum up support and spread the word. It means meetings with the district staff to discuss compromises and encourage arts friendly decisions. It means understanding when key budget decsisions are made, and meeting with the right people to influence those decisions. It means a working to create a constant voice for the arts in education.

Equity is the one idea that ties our programming decisions all together.  Equity is not a destination, but a constant drive to adapt and make space for everyone in our programming. That is why we chose to eliminate membership, opening our services to everyone. That is why we launched the Creative Directory, so ACNV can advocate for people to hire local artists, and give all artists a plateform to be found. It’s also why we are working internally to identify and elminate inequitable policies, and offer staff professional development opportunties to educate themselves on equitable practices.

Just like any machine, we are constantly working to improve it’s performance, and we make adjustments based on our community’s feedback. Is there something you’d like to see the Arts Council Napa Valley address? Send us an email with you question or suggestion at info@ArtsCouncilNV.org. Think what we do is cool and want to be a part of it? Sign up for the Insider Link and the Creative Directory, or volunteer with us.