AAC Focus Group Report


Carol Latham, Jan 14, 2018

OBJECTIVES:

The Anaheim Arts Council ][AAC] convened representatives of member organizations, business, educators, city staff and private citizens to gather information on three areas of concerns to the AAC. We specifically sought to hear opinions on three [3] areas: purpose, philosophy and priorities. This was conducted through asking four [4] questions: (1) What is the purpose of the AAC and the state of the arts in Anaheim? (2) How can membership growth and financial growth be encouraged?  (3) How can the AAC better share, engage and articulate the AAC vision city-wide to business, the city and educators? And (4) What areas need immediate attention?

It should be noted that each of the two Focus Groups, assembled from various backgrounds, were given an overview of the Arts Council’s history and rich heritage  to date. During the discussion process It was also evident that while these Focus Groups were engaged for the Arts Council,  many of the concerns, comments and needed outcomes were also related to many of the organizations represented in the groups and throughout the Council membership.

SUMMARY FINDINGS: The groups determined that the main purpose of the AAC is to provide: 

Leadership and Advocacy

Participants stated that the AAC should be the “voice of the arts” in Anaheim. It should be the main communication outlet to the citizens, government (city) and businesses while uniting the arts organizations, in the city, into one cohesive force. AAC needs to encourage participation and community engagement with the arts. Promoting “the Arts” is an investment in the community.

            Influence public policies: Groups saw the AAC as being the force to work with the Cultural & Heritage Commission to help enact critical public policies and suggest new priorities for advocacy to the City. AAC needs to develop a strategy for working with the City Council and commissions in presenting the organization’s needs along with community benefits. The messages and requests need to be consistent to the City with updated progress reports given back to the AAC regularly.

Group members acknowledged that while the creative sector in Anaheim is significant and has been a source of revitalization, it has potential for even greater economic impact. This may be accomplished through closer ties with business and city. Examples are Art In Public Places and renovations similar to the Packing House.

Definitive recognition for the arts is needed from the City. A line item in the City budget for the arts is needed. Propose this being a small % of the hotel tax. There are 3 organizations designated as “the resident” art company (Ballet, Theater and Symphony) of the City but with no discernible prestige.

 

Advocate Arts Education

Participants stated the continuing critical need for an arts education pathway from elementary school through high school with communication between all sectors.

Membership growth and investment in memberships:   There is a need for membership growth and investment in youth memberships including non-organization and non-education members.

            Consider an Arts Ambassador Program.

            Must be aware of the different means of communications this sector will require.

Provide services for:

            - grants -writing grants for re-granting  e.g. Arts &Humanities, CA Arts Council, Ford and Duke Foundations,  OC Community Foundation

            -  workshops on grant writing, social media.

            - tax info for potential sponsors on the website

            - link to other organizations and artists’ websites, including mission, contacts, meeting information, etc.

            - artists’ bulletin board

            - brand in art-language to reach sponsors, businesses, etc.

Communications & Information conduit:  Despite the explosion of online information, some participants described the challenge of finding critical information.  This again addresses the question regarding the means of communication being geared to the demographics and how traffic can be driven to specific groups.

            The AAC can provide information on grants and make them aware that the Anaheim Community Foundation, not the AAC, can serve as a fiscal agent for their nonprofit.  The AAC can provide  help with grant writing and social media workshops.

            Anaheim Chamber of Commerce  directory could have  AAC member organizations listed with their mission, contact and meeting information.

            Shared marketing and promotional materials with other organizations could reach larger audiences with increased impact with less cost.

Marketing and audience engagement:  Use more social media to connect. Create a substantial AAC marketing budget.

Changing media and communications: There is a need to adapt to the changing media sources as electronic media outpaces newspapers. Broader use of different means of social media and approaching demographics in variety of ways is needed. Younger members of the community rely on Instagram, SnapChat instead of newsprint and even Facebook.

            Develop an organizational strategy to distribute newsletter and website information within the community and beyond.

            Share expertise inter-organizationally.

            Develop viral podcasts and a YouTube presence,

Audience tends vary: A continued graying of the audiences with  a preference for familiar and accessible programming, and declining attendance. Need to look at what genre of the arts is continuing to thrive [music special events]

OTHER CONCERNS:

Funding and economics: Funding sources are being diluted and the local citizens are demanding more resources being spent on safety and the homeless to the determent of less ’tangible’ needs, like art.  The AAC fund raising challenge is one that also resonates  with  smaller arts organizations as they too have difficulty breaking through limitations of funding partnerships, and visibility to gain attendance capacity at their events.

            There is a need for more creative fundraising, marketing, board development, communication and information systems and grants.

Lack of resources: There is a lack of  time, money and volunteers. AAC and organizations need to work towards having paid staff.

Cultural heritage: Anaheim has a rich heritage of arts and culture going back to its inception, but some of that has been lost.  Anaheim is far more than entertainment and sports venues.  The description of “art”  needs to be more inclusive.

            There is a need for updated inventory  of “art” in Anaheim and creating stronger ties with the various cultural groups within the city.

 

Convening is valuable: organizations and artists are eager for more frequent opportunities to meet, network, and exchange information with their peers.

Artist’s success and challenges: Artists want respect as professionals. Artists and arts organizations are concerned about studio space, business development, marketing, networking opportunities and performance venues.

Facility development: Throughout the city there may be properties with good potential for redevelopment as artist studios, office space, galleries, creative business co-ops, cultural facilities and performance venues. AAC needs to request  inventory of these properties from the city and make such sites known to organizations in need.

SUMMARY ADVISE TO AAC:

1.         Lead, advocate, and represent the art/creative sector

2.         Leverage other means of funding [grant opportunities], the City and donors

3.         Redefine AAC’s role

4.         Convene and help organizations network and collaborate

5.         Enhance AAC visibility

6.         Enable better information sharing and communications

7.         Continue to shape public policy for the arts in collaboration with the Cultural &                Heritage Commission.

8.         Help the creative sector learn nonprofit management and arts business skills.

9.         Continue to assist in providing assistance regarding space/facilities.



 

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