Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Strategic initiative: linking with consensual values

THE WINNIPEG ART GALLERY: CAPITAL UPGRADES AND CAPITAL CAMPAIGN

The proposal of capital upgrades is consistent with all of the elements of the WAG’s recently defined values:

Excellence and innovation: the improved WAG will allow us to refine our program offerings by: renovating spaces and surfaces that have seen more than 30 years of use; facilitating best practices in terms of energy conservation and incorporation of new technologies; expanding the potential for presentation of new media work; also the potential for expansion on Colony Street could see us create a large space for permanent display of a much larger and more representative selection from our Inuit collection (which we are renowned for.)

Financial sustainability: the improved WAG could be reconfigured in such a way as to provide greater ease of access to redesigned retail areas, potential for improved facility rentals, potential for incorporation of new heating technologies (with Manitoba Hydro as potential partner on a geo-thermal approach); the inclusion of the Inuit component could result in an important naming opportunity that would assist with our total capital campaign goal; the success of endowment campaign would also be key to ensuring our long-term financial well-being.

Inclusivity: as we plan for the improved WAG, we could contemplate the creation of a community gallery (possibly on the mezzanine area) where work from our art classes and other uses would expand our reach and our audiences; also, our proposal to hire a Curator of Aboriginal Art (tied to strengthened link with the U of Winnipeg) would see us focus on working hard to improve the communication and exchange with our aboriginal partners and (new and expanding) audiences.

Integrity: a number of the points raised above pick up on this theme: we will demonstrate integrity through excellence and innovation, tied to financial sustainability; we will improve the flow of communication both internally and externally to make the institution more transparent; we will improve the working conditions for all WAG staff, and we will demonstrate our integrity through collaborative approaches in how we work.

It would be great to start a conversation with the team at the WAG and get their input as to how they perceive this project. What is missing? What needs to be rethought? What are the issues that (with the best foresight) we need to be planning for? Also, how do the WAG team members feel about the elements that I think relate to our recently defined values?

In terms of posivites and negatives that emerge with respect to our ability to implement this plan:

We need to clearly assess the planning requirements to start defining the vision. A structured conversation with the whole team would be essential. During this conversation, we would seek input into the vision (what do we want to collectively achieve? what are the priorities in terms of investment? where are the greatest gaps in the institution?) A possible approach to the question of how we hold these conversations would be to start with a visioning session that would see teams work together to define the vision and the needs of their individual departments; we could then combine these in a larger forum and see if we can to establish a consensus on priorities.

Other conversations could be held later that would see us inviting community stakeholders into the fold: how do our draft plans meet/or not their expectations of what the WAG should and could be? How does our vision confirm/or not the potential for expanded collaboration and inclusion?

In terms of my role, maybe the need at this point is for someone to play more the role of facilitator (rather than leader.) The problem with leader in this mode is that it needs to be clear that if someone if putting forth some options (as I did in last week’s document), these are only starting points for a discussion as to how we can move forward. Also, coordination of all these elements would be essential and Claire and I will need to work very closely to ensure that we both plan and time the roll-out of the next steps.

Further, the discussion that happens with the staff could be a starting point for the dialogue with the Board. As we just discovered that we can successfully manage these types of conversations and get alignment of our values (as we did with the Mission, Vision and Values exercise), the work done by staff could be used as a springboard for the committee and board level discussions of the board. Once a consensus is established on the Vision for the new project, we could start discussions with key individuals in the community who could be recruited to play a major role in the capital campaign (we would then be in a position to recruit our campaign chairs and honourary chair.)

Next steps:

Once back home, start the discussions with staff and board and define respective roles and responsibilities. Establish consensus as to what my role should/will be; what is the role of the individual board members? How will our current (and recently proposed) committee structure assist in achieving goals as we move through the design phase?

Also, clearly identify (with a “best guess”) what the timeline should be for each part of the conversation.

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