An Update on Our Strategic Plan: Seeking Your Input

In collaboration with Workhorse Collaborative and Shannon Parris Consulting, the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council is developing a transformative strategic plan to propel our organization forward. This 3–5-year plan will encompass everything from our internal operations to the programs we offer. Our ultimate goal is to respond to the needs of the local arts ecosystem and cultivate a thriving, vibrant arts community for the Greater Pittsburgh region. 

Strategic Plan Update. Seeking Your Input.

During the planning process, we’ve analyzed our programs and services to better understand our impact. We’ve identified areas of great success, where our work has had a significant positive impact on organizations and individuals in the region. We’ve also gained a better understanding of how we have harmed our community and failed to live up to our mission. As we move forward, we want to acknowledge our mistakes while building on our past successes. 

Guided by our commitment to transparency and accountability in this process, we are sharing what we’ve learned so far and how we plan to proceed. 

Owning our mistakes: 

  • Some of our programs have been in direct competition with those we claim to serve. Most of our programs were created to serve a need in a specific moment. As time passed, we failed to recognize when others in our community launched programs to address similar needs. By continuing these programs without recognizing these changes, we have diverted resources, public attention, and social capital away from similar programs that are already meeting the needs of artists and arts organizations in the region. 
  • Our pattern of stopping and starting programs—and communicating poorly about those decisions—has created instability for individuals and organizations that rely on us. Past examples include our accessibility and inclusion initiative and various peer groups. Our inconsistency in managing programs and communicating changes has created an environment where our community can’t trust us. 
  • We have harmed community partners by mismanaging important programs. We are grateful to members of the Black Arts Action Committee (BAAC) and Disabled Artists Creative Cohort (DACC), among others, for sharing this feedback. Our failure to properly plan, resource, and manage programs like these has harmed our relationship with the community.

How we’re moving forward: 

We believe the Arts Council can be most effective when we embody our role as a connector for the arts community. We plan to reduce the number of public programs that we administer directly, like arts workshops and the professional development series, and increase our focus on

  • sharing resources (like grant opportunities and industry research) 

  • fostering significant relationships and partnerships 
  • seeking community input about the region’s evolving needs 
  • advocating for arts-centric policies and funding 
  • increasing public awareness of arts and culture in our region 

One way we will stay accountable for this shift is by using the following internal decision-making tool. Any program we decide to continue or launch must be vetted against these questions. 

Decision-making tool for programming and shared services: 

  1. What gap does this fill in the arts ecosystem? What is the evidence that this gap exists? 

  2. Who, if anyone, offers something similar? How is it different?  
  3. Is the Arts Council uniquely positioned to take this on, or is there a better partner the Arts Council can connect to the issue and support?  
  4. What financial and staff resources are available to start this? Sustain this?  
  5. How will we communicate it? 

What we need from you: 

Your feedback is a crucial part of our process. To gather community comments, we’ve developed a short 4-question survey that asks for general feedback as well as input on our proposed decision-making tool. As a thank you for your time and input, respondents will be entered into a raffle to win one of ten $100 Visa gift cards. 

This survey will be open for two weeks, from Thursday, April 11, to Thursday, April 25. Please consider taking this survey to share your thoughts, questions, concerns, and ideas with us. 


Take the Survey

Looking ahead 

Through the strategic planning process, we are using the same lens of examination across all operations, including finance, staffing, and board development: what was the impact of our past approach, where have we done a disservice, and how can we remedy it? 

As we move forward, we are committed to clearly defining our core audience and role in the arts ecosystem and establishing measures so our community members can hold us accountable. We plan to share the full outcome of this process this summer.

Our entire staff thanks each of you for participating in this process and helping us evolve. 

Patrick Fisher