Knowing our Foundations
The B.C Arts Council just released their new strategic plan Foundations for 2018-2022 which you can access here. This post is about bringing attention to the importance of Artists knowing a funding bodies strategic plan and less about my opinions on the plan itself but hey we all know this blog #OpinionsGuaranteed.
I'd like to start off by honouring the hard work that the Council has done, creating these plans take a lot of rigour and the staff of these department never get enough recognition. There is no theatre award for being an awesome arts officer or delivering a commanding charge or taking on the very difficult role of being an informed yet impartial, delicate and well versed jury officer during granting deliberations but maybe there should be because I'm not sure we all really understand the significance of these roles and the impact the strategic plan has on all of us.
A strategic plan is "an organizational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals, establish agreement around intended outcomes/results, and assess and adjust the organization's direction in response to a changing environment. It is a disciplined effort that produces fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, who it serves, what it does, and why it does it, with a focus on the future."
In short, it's the game plan and that matters as artists because if we want on the roster, we want coaching and we want positive results when we playing - then we best be knowing the theory and rationale for getting the W.
I also think it's incredibly important because it gives us agency as artists to hold ourselves and our community accountable. It gives us the metrics and guiding principles and values to ask questions with authority around why resources are going where and to whom.
With the controversy going on with that show in Montreal I would go to the hand feeding them and find out who is funding this and what the hell are the pillars of their strat plan that support this violent work. Then I'd go directly to the Board or Council and ask the Chair - looky here ya'll remember this - how does this show support your deliverables? More importantly I'd try and find out how the funding bodies commitment to the work violates it's own pillars and strat plan and hold them accountable to their own priorities.
These bodies, specifically the ones where resources are coming from government which make them public dollars, means that they are accountable to the public and for me that means any work cannot and should not ever harm or violate the safety of any members of the public. As I step into more leadership roles I'm very interested in these system of public account because I'm craving more accountability in our sector.
I've experienced and beared witness to a lot of oppressive and violent behaviour from tyrannical directors, to racist choices in scripts, to continued colonial oppressive organizational choices and I'm starting to realize that tangible account will have to go through these bodies. So I have to educate myself and be rigorous with my capacity building to understand these plans in great detail in order to protect the safety of my Indigenous community and those who've been and continue to be disenfranchised, marginalized and denied equity.
A couple highlights from this specific stat plan that I'm particularly interested in:
"The resilience of Indigenous peoples in B.C. has led to a growing understanding of the importance of the right to maintain, control, protect and develop Indigenous cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, language and cultural expressions."
"The BC Arts Council, alongside other long-standing arts and cultural organizations in the province, was founded on a European model of artistic excellence. We recognize that many of our practices and standards are colonial in nature, biased toward certain definitions of arts and culture. We are ready to seize the opportunity to increase the accessibility of our programs, decolonize our approach to arts funding and work to achieve greater equity in supporting arts and culture in B.C."
"an explicit commitment to equity, diversity and access requires critical reflection on patterns of inclusion and exclusion, particularly those that may be deeply engrained. Both unconscious bias and a tendency to support the familiar can result in reinforcing longstanding assumptions around arts and culture. We must focus on sustained and meaningful engagement with underserved communities to discover how we can best support artists and cultural organizations to ensure that all citizens see themselves reflected in the arts and culture of the province."
"We have held this commitment to Indigenous arts and cultural vitality for many years, and yet, we are only beginning to understand the full extent of how our programs and policies reflect colonial perspectives. Meaningful relationship-building and collaboration with Indigenous communities, guided by the principle of self-determination, alongside critical reflection on the perspectives that inform our work, are necessary to effect change at a fundamental level."
"Decolonization and equity are at the heart of this work, and we intend to show leadership while continuing to listen to the artists and cultural organizations that have demanded change in order to move forward together."
Strategic plans are so important to know in order to ignite, seize and demonstrate our power so I highly recommend everyone grabbing a cup of coffee and going over this in great detail.
These plans are talking about the future and if ya want to be a part of it or help guide it, ya better get knowing. This next generation isn't going to allow unconscious dinosaur like behaviour to continue to uphold the status quo and take the resources, especially not when we've just been delivered a strat plan that addresses in great lengths the transformation that needs and will be happening. The ground is moving so you better get stepping.
With love, gratitude and power,
p.s if you're a young artist I urge you to try and get on a jury. I sat on my first one over 10 years ago when I was 22 and it changed the way I saw and worked within the ecology of the theatrical and creation community. Ask to be a fly on the wall but get yourself in the room.