Monday, February 2, 2009

Milwaukee Cultural Alliance - the listening session summary.

The next feedback session with MARN and Cultural Alliance will be held at WPCA on Tuesday, March 3rd.
It will be accompanied by African Ameri-Dance performance by Souljah.
Check back soon for more details!

Since the discussion about the Creative Community Summit is raging, here is a promised summary of the previous listening session.
A big thank you to Denise Lubotsky and Christine Harris of the Cultural Alliance and Melissa Dorn Richards of MARN for letting me quote them in this summary.

Since the stakes of the enterprise of Wisconsin Creative Community Summit are high, we believe it'd be useful to provide a semi-permanent web-space to archive the development of dialogue in our community. Many individual artists felt left out from the cultural planning processes initiated by the Milwaukee Cultural Alliance, so as a membership-based organization, we partnered with MARN to provide a physical venue to facilitate the discussion. We will try to record the essence of the conversation as it continues.

February 27, Listening Session.

The Creative Community Summit – or Kre8 Kamp as you might prefer – was held at Lake Lawn, Delavan, on February 4 and 5. As stated by Christine Harris at WPCA meeting, its purpose was “to commence a planning process for growing our creative community.” The expected outcome is “an overall vision of our creative community with the start of a roadmap on how to get there.” The participants were limited to 45 and were selected based on “representation of all stakeholders, geographic coverage, decision makers in their fields, influencers beyond their job role, and availability for the full two days of the process.” The session was facilitated by Marble Leadership of Chicago, with Leslie Marquard as lead facilitator.

There has been much discussion on the summit in the Milwaukee blogosphere, so here we just want to account for the voices of individual artists as the group that was not well represented at the summit (to say the least).

The listening session started off with Christine Harris explaining the mission of the Alliance: to act as a policy leader, a connector/convener, and a promoter. According to Harris, and I quote from the notes provided by Melissa Dorn Richards here:

…as a policy leader the Cultural Alliance represents the sector at the regional, state and local community table, advocates on public funding and policy issues, increased private and public funding, providing research for policy issue discussions, such as GMC Cultural Asset Inventory. As a connector, the Alliance works to create links between artists and arts organizations and schools and youth serving agencies. Currently through Bader Foundation three year Arts Education Collaborative – the Alliance is providing the State's first ever 'artist educator' web directory. The Cultural Alliance offers seminars and workshops for organizational capacity building, is working to broker collaborations; such as shared services and resources, and representing region in national organizations, such as Americans for the Arts. As a promoter, the Alliance works to develop marketing resources to help build audiences around the region, building web connections for groups and the consumer and is currently working to incorporate social media into the fold.

An important mention was that the Cultural Alliance and MARN are preparing to undertake a survey in order to better know the local artistic community and define it.

Major concerns expressed by the attendees were:
  • Transparency.
  • Adequate representation of individual artists and small organizations. Jeffrey Holub expressed a need for individual artists to advocate for their needs, and proposed an idea of repository where artists could identify their needs. It was suggested the artist survey proposed by MCA and MARN would be a good place to gather this information, and Jeffrey volunteered to help with the survey. According to Implementation of actual change as expressed by Peter Goldberg who voiced his reservations about the GMC handling the Creative Summit/Cultural Asset.
  • Importance of hearing the voices from both non-profit and for-profit sectors and the increased awareness of how the two intersect.
  • Healthcare as a perpetual problem of individual artists – an attendee shared information about artist/healthcare exchanges he'd heard about in New York. The group at large decided that gathering for this type of open discussion was particularly useful and should happen with more regularity, every 1-2 months.
  • Examples of successful Cultural Alliances and their practices. Both Cultural Alliance and MARN are part of the United Arts Funds, a division of the Americans for the Arts (AFTA). According to Christine, many Alliances do funding and re-granting, as well as marketing and promotion, among other services.
The meeting was attended by 35—40 participants.

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