Same canvas, bold new strokes.
And it’s been two-year process getting here. Here to this new identity for the Chatham Arts Council, with our new logo, our new strategy, and our new website.
In October of 2012, thanks to the foundation built for 30 years by Board members, volunteers, and staff, we had the luxury of taking a pause to ask ourselves, “We’re doing good work. But are we being as impactful and sustainable as we need to be for this county?”
When the answer was, “Maybe not,” we reached out in this community for a full year, asking for honest feedback about what we do and what we could do. We’re so glad we asked. That outreach revealed some great things, and also some feedback that was difficult to hear, like:
- We’re totally confused about what the different arts organizations in Chatham County do. They all seem the same.
- We know you best for your excellent Chatham Studio Tour. (It is excellent, but we don’t produce it anymore. We grant dollars to our good friends at the Chatham Artists Guild, who make the Studio Tour happen.)
- We’re not seeing a lot of you all in the western part of the County.
- We know there’s a lot of artsy stuff going on in Chatham County, but we don’t know how to find it, so we do most of our arts stuff in Chapel Hill, or Durham, or Raleigh. (And we go out to dinner there beforehand. And have drinks there afterward. And essentially spend our entertainment dollars outside of Chatham County.)
This is challenging stuff for a Board to hear. But your Chatham Arts Council Board is brave. They took a risk. They spent time, effort, and resources to get this growing county the arts council it needs. They were all in for an innovative, forward-thinking new identity for the Chatham Arts Council.
Alright, so how did we get from difficult-to-hear feedback to where we are now?
We got around the table (many times) with our feedback from folks and our ideas and possibilities, and we decided to first get clear on what kind of an organization we wanted to be. We did that, and we now review these eight commitments every time we make a decision for the Chatham Arts Council.
The Chatham Arts Council is committed to being exemplary, impactful, sustainable, intentional, reliable, differentiated, innovative, and inclusive of this big, diverse county. Once we had those commitments, we realized that to be those things, we needed to really go for it: new strategies, new website to help us follow through on those strategies, new logo to represent the new us.
And that’s when we had to figure out what exactly the new us does—and what we don’t do.
Feedback from our community revealed nine potential areas of focus. All great ideas. But we knew we couldn’t focus on nine things and be exemplary at any of them. After much analysis of the needs in the county and our own expertise and bandwidth, we settled on two focus areas.
So, here’s what we do now:
1: We invest in artists.
2: We educate kids through the arts.
Our artists in the community let us know that they most need help in two ways: financial resources and getting the word out about their work. And since artists are vital to the quality of life in a community, we listened.
So here’s how we’ll be investing in artists:
- Our new Meet This Artist series
- Our new Go See This series
- Our new Arts Directory, fabulously robust and user-friendly compendium of Chatham County artists in literary, visual, and performing arts disciplines—with space for arts venues and galleries, too
- Our new Arts Events Calendar, one-stop shopping for Chatham County arts events
We got feedback that kids are important—and that folks in our county believe that nurturing creative potential in kids leads to greater achievement in all academic disciplines.
So here’s what we’re doing in our second focus area, educating kids through the arts:
- ClydeFEST, our outdoor arts festival dedicated to the creativity of the littles—especially kids from ages 2 to 10
- Artists In Schools, working with the Chatham County Schools, parents, and teaching artists—and reaching out to fellow arts councils—to develop an exemplary Artists In Schools model that we can pilot in the 2015-16 academic year
With a little luck and a whole lot of help, we moved toward our new vision of nurturing creative thinkers in Chatham County with this new strategy. Now we have a new logo to move us forward, thanks to the strong work of Lesley Landis Designs. And we have a new website to help us partner with you, thanks to the fabulous Chris Liu-Beers of Tomatillo Design.
Our community is going to change rapidly over the next decade. We’re going to do our part to ensure that creativity is a part of that. This is going to be fun.