This project was funded by a substantial operating and planning grant A4A received from the Barr Foundation.
The analysis of current conditions and definition of success portions of this project were organized using the success triangle: value, capacity, and support. Analysis of A4A’s financial and program records, combined with in-depth interviews with 6 internal stakeholders and a review of historic grant proposals, led to an initial set of findings on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats A4A faced in light of nascent organizational and sector goals. In an onsite workshop facilitated by Project Director Michele Walter and Analyst Meg Friedman, A4A’s staff of four reviewed the findings, and engaged in a series of active thinking games to articulate what success would look like in the future. The active thinking activities included:
- The “press release exercise”
- Stakeholder mapping
The second stage of the project looked outward, drawing in secondary research into the existing ecosystem of direct support for artists as well as in-depth interviews with 8 leading individuals in the field. Findings were compiled into a webinar presentation and memo, and used to provoke discussion with the A4A team as to how A4A’s evolution could match, lead, or transform the field going forward.
A second and final in-person workshop initiated the process of writing the strategic plan itself. Using a toolkit developed by AMS, the A4A team then collaborated for several weeks on goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics, with periodic correspondence and feedback from AMS as the plan took shape. The final strategic plan was delivered with an executive summary, and the A4A team continued to adapt the language as appropriate for grantseeking and other organizational development purposes.