SAMPLE: Art Students League of Denver Inclusivity Plan

 

SAMPLE DOCUMENT

 

Inclusivity Plan: Art Students League of Denver

Background/Introduction

The mission of the Art Students League of Denver (ASL or League) is to "provide an enriching and creative environment for artistic expression through dialogue, instruction, and active learning." The League's overarching goal is to provide a creative outlet for those who wish to learn and practice visual arts. Our objectives include: (1) helping adults and children develop an appreciation of the visual arts through a balance of technical and creative skills, (2) providing reasonably priced art classes of the utmost quality, (3) showcasing our students' work in the League's gallery, and (4) providing our students with the knowledge and ability to sell and market their artwork through professional development opportunities.

The League launched this two-year inclusiveness initiative after incorporating a Diversity Initiative in our Strategic Plan in 2003 and forming an Inclusiveness Committee.  The strategies designed to achieve our Diversity Initiative were: 1) cross-programming and cross-promotion with ethnic arts organizations, 2) expansion of marketing and PR efforts in diverse communities, 3) the formation of an Inclusiveness Committee made up of board members, staff, students and faculty (this strategy was added in summer 2005), and 4) seeking greater funding for low-income student scholarships.

We have incorporated strategy 3 above and have formed an Inclusiveness Committee comprised of the following members:

  • Five board members
  • Staff members: Executive Director; Development Director; Marketing Director; Manager of Operations
  • Faculty members (4)
  • Student (1)

As we have moved forward with the Inclusiveness Initiative this past year we have reaffirmed the importance of the strategies above.  This is important to note as we build upon past efforts.   Now, we hope to enhance inclusiveness by increasing minority participation at the leadership level, offering programs that appeal to a diverse customer base and informing all members of the community about our programs.

Strengths and Weaknesses Related to Inclusiveness

We strive to build off of our strengths and use these assets to attract more people to the League.

Our Strengths

  • Internal buy-in: We have launched our Inclusiveness Committee with representatives from the board, staff, faculty and students.
  • Programming:
  • Our Visiting Artists' series has allowed us to introduce the community to a wide range of nationally recognized artists.  In partnership with the Asian Arts Coordinating Council, the League hosted Yang Yang, a recognized Chinese artist, in spring 2006 and an African sculptor from Zimbabwe.
  • Our KidArt and Teen Tracks camps for grades 1-12 offer culturally rich options such as:
    1. Mexican & Mayan art - Children discover ancient art forms by creating Mayan motifs, Mexican murals and piñatas
    2. American Indian art - Children practice visual storytelling through weaving and creation of totem poles
    3. African Art - Children learn folk art forms through the construction of paper mache` masks, tie-dye fabrics and clay beads
    4. Asian art - Children construct paper dragons and create Indonesian batik textiles
  • Community outreach: We have established relationships with adjoining neighborhoods that are largely Hispanic. For example, in 2004 we partnered with Fairmont Elementary School in the Baker neighborhood to create a mural. This mural involved children and families from the school. We are currently exploring possibilities for partnerships with Cleo Parker Robinson's Dance Ensemble., CHAC and other culturally centered arts organizations.
  • Access:
  • We are centrally located, available to many ethnically diverse neighborhoods.
  • We offer scholarships for low-income adults and youth
  • Faculty: Our professional faculty reflects cultural diversity that includes African-Americans, Vietnamese, Chinese and Hispanic artists.
  • Students: Though not representative of the percentages of people living within the Denver/Metro area, League adult's and children's classes do include students with disabilities, gender variations, and those from communities representing varied ethnic groups.

Our Weaknesses

  • Diversity:
  • Board and staff: We have a relatively small number of ethnically diverse board members and staff. Because of the small professional staff, the League does not have significant turn-over. We have been making efforts to attract a more diverse job applicant pool via posting of positions on diverse websites and with several associations. Unfortunately that strategy hasn't led to more diverse staff at this time.
  • Students: Diversity in our adult constituents/students. While we have many students who participate in our programs from very diverse backgrounds, our adult students attending day classes have been fairly homogeneous. These adult students tend to be middle aged white women of financial means. We clearly have more work to do in this area.
  • Board: We have not contacted diverse professional organizations in our board recruiting efforts.
  • Marketing: We know that our marketing and PR efforts must become more adept at reaching diverse communities through our messaging and identifying key markets and communication vehicles.

In essence, the weaknesses currently identified were reflected in our 2003 Strategic Plan's and 2004 Marketing Plan's inclusivity goals and strategies. Now is the time to analyze and take a very pro-active approach through the involvement of all of our stakeholders, creative thinking and implementation of defined action strategies.

The first step to becoming more "inclusive" was defining what that term meant for us at the Art Students League. Not only did we define it, we also defined "diversity" and established our Case Statement for inclusiveness. These statements have proven to be important touch stones as we developed this plan.

Case Statement and Definitions

 

Inclusiveness: Being open and accessible to all individuals.

Diversity: Reflecting a representative cross-section of the community-at-large.

Case Statement: The Art Students League of Denver is expanding its inclusiveness and broadening the diversity of its students and Board of Directors.

Data Gathering

Once we defined the terms "inclusive" and "diverse" for the League, our next task was to identify our data gathering needs. In essence, we needed to answer the question, "What data do we need to inform dialogue and decision making as we develop our inclusiveness strategies?"  Our first step was a review of existing data from internal and external sources. We realized that we had quite of bit of data in hand.

Review of Existing Information

During the summer of 2006, the Inclusiveness Committee determined what we needed to learn from the information gathering step so as to best achieve the goals we set for ourselves and answer important questions. The League began by reviewing existing data on its students, its board and the larger community as highlighted below.

  • Review of ASLD survey data: The committee discussed the 2006 survey results. Members expressed concerns that the data is skewed due to the fact that the majority of respondents were older, more affluent females and are not representative of the entire student population.
  • Review of survey & observational data: The committee noted that informal observational research conducted by the staff affirmed that the survey data matches the demographics of the League's weekday adult students. Daytime ASLD students are predominantly white, female, 50-55, upper middle-class, Denver residents, professionals, artists, and retirees. Evening ASLD students are more representative of males, younger, and have varying economic levels. We clearly have more to do in the area of demographic data collection on our students.
  • Review of seven-county Metro Denver demographic data. ASL students represent a higher economic group than the metro area overall (more upper middle class) as compared to median household income provided via the Census.
  • Review of s Board of Directors demographics. The board is over 50% male with a median age in the mid-40's. We have 19 Anglos, 2 Hispanics, 1 African-American

Next, the committee explored issues ranging from how to best build off our strengths (an assets approach), who we really want to reach, and what we want to learn from them.

 

Gathering Additional Information - Further Defining Who We Want to Reach

The committee's discussion centered around building on our strengths, while emphasizing ethnicity. Since we know the League attracts middle to upper income Anglo females, we should target middle to upper income people from diverse cultures who are interested in the arts. We went on to define who we would like to reach via additional research as follows.

Further definition of "who"

  • People in the arts or related fields
  • Middle to upper income people
  • Denver County residents
  • People of various ages (younger and older than current students)
  • People of diverse ethnicity and culture
  • People with disabilities

Focus Group Research

The committee also determined that the most effective method of "information gathering" for our purposes was through focus groups led by experienced facilitators and documented by Corona Research. It was decided that three focus groups would be held in mid-September 2006.

To reach the focus group participants, we first identified that people must have an interest in art. Then we identified art centers, arts organizations and other entities that had these types of constituents. In addition to people of color, we targeted people with disabilities and people in a younger demographic group to participate. Distribution occurred through the following organizations. Flyers were distributed in advance through the following organizations and individuals: CHAC, Museo, El Centro Su Teatro, DCPA, DAM, Culture Haus, PHAMALy, VSA Colorado, SCFD Tier III organizations, and ASL faculty.

Focus Group Findings

  • 1) Participants were involved in several forms of creating art. Painting, sculpture, ceramics, stained glass art, beadwork, metal sculpture, wig and costume production, graphic design and digital media were ways in which participants were involved in creating art. This variety of art forms extended beyond those included in the ASL's definition of fine art. Many participants earned their main or supplemental incomes from selling their art, or teaching art to others.
  • 2) "Fine art" means quality. While several definitions were discussed for the term "fine art," most participants described fine art in terms of the quality, longevity and professionalism of the art rather than the art form. Fine arts did not appear to be a meaningful term or label to participants. After the definition of fine art was read by the moderator, most participants then said they would consider themselves fine artists. It should be noted that after the definition of fine art was stated by the moderator, more participants said they would describe themselves as fine artists than before the definition was read.
  • 3) Participants were members of community organizations, specifically Sankofa and CHAC. Several participants in each group commented that they were members of Sankofa, an African American community arts collective, and CHAC, the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council. In all three groups, many participants nodded when these organizations were mentioned, showing they had recognition of the organization. Participants also stated that they participated in other community groups and organizations, but Sankofa and CHAC were consistently discussed in all three groups.
  • 4) Overall, participants had heard of the Art Students League. While almost all participants had heard of the Art Students League, less than half had taken classes at the League. The Summer Art Market and word-of-mouth were the most commonly identified means by which participants had heard about the ASL. Several college-age participants also said they had heard about the ASL from friends who had taken classes at the League or from other artists in the community. These participants also noted that they had heard about the ASL from teachers at their former high schools and current colleges.
  • 5) Participants were unclear about the offerings, benefits, and mission of the Art Students League. While some participants were aware that the League offered classes to individuals of all ages, a few participants thought the League taught only very young students, and others were unaware that the League offered classes at all. Some participants knew that the ASL is a teaching organization, but other respondents remarked that they thought the League was a support system for local artists, not a teaching facility. Few participants knew that the ASL was a membership organization, but this did not seem to deter interest in taking classes at the League.
  • 6) Participants viewed the ASL as a school that teaches a particular style of painting. Focus group discussions revealed that people often saw the League as a place to learn impressionistic, canvas painting and not a place to learn various art forms, such as mixed media and sculpture. Participants stated that they saw several landscape and still-life paintings during the pre-discussion tour, and felt that this was representative of the teachings at the League. One participant commented that the Summer Art Market included primarily landscape paintings. Several participants said they would like to see photography and digital arts taught at the school.
  • 7) People wanted a welcoming, friendly atmosphere in a community arts school. When asked what they would like to get from a community arts school, participants said they wanted to feel welcomed into a diverse arena, where they were not intimidated. Also, participants believed that it is important for an arts school to promote creativity, and not teach only one style of art. A few participants stated the school had a very "academic feel" and another thought the school was "more regimented" than other community arts organizations.
  • 8) Class offerings and instructors were barriers for some. Interestingly, while many of the participants said they frequently created and sold art, a few respondents remarked that they were intimidated by taking classes with well-known instructors. Specifically, participants said that taking a class from a prominent artist who is a visiting or guest professor at the League could be intimidating. Some participants would like to see more introductory and beginner classes offered, such as art history classes that would give a foundation to more advanced classes. Others who had taken such classes in college wanted to bypass such classes. Also, a few participants commented that classes tended to fill up quickly, and said they had tried to attend classes at the League but were unable to due to the classes being full.
  • 9) The Art Students League should partner with the community and community organizations. Overall, participants said they would like to see more community involvement from the ASL. Recommendations included holding open house days, workshops at various community locations and partnering with other community arts programs such as Sankofa and CHAC. Participants said that having a dual membership between these organizations would be an incentive to take classes at the ASL.
  • 10) Transportation, time and money were three factors that kept people from participating in the ASL. Most participants said that their busy schedules and a lack of transportation kept them from taking classes at the League. Several participants rode the bus, which made it difficult to transport art and supplies. Also, many participants said that having children and work made it difficult to fit art classes into their busy schedules. Finally participants said that making the financial commitment to take classes at the League was difficult. One remedy to these obstacles included offering classes at satellite locations in Aurora or Arvada.
  • 11) The League should offer culturally-specific classes. Overwhelmingly, participants in all three groups agreed that the League should offer classes relating to specific cultures, such as African art, Native American art, Latino art or Asian art. Participants said that culturally-specific classes would not only be interesting, but would also help raise awareness of the diverse types of art being practiced. Interestingly, participants said the classes would not need to be taught by a member of that cultural group, but the instructor would need to be very familiar with the history and practice of creating the art.
  • 12) The ASL should increase its marketing efforts. Throughout the discussions, participants commented on a lack of marketing by the League. Participants suggested that the League advertise in various public venues and community newspapers, as well as participate in community outreach in order to spread the word about ASL classes and events.

Lessons Learned

The Inclusivity Committee learned a great deal through the focus group process. We learned how important it is to reach a representative audience during the recruiting process. We also learned that it can be helpful to have continuity in the focus group moderators. While we appreciated the volunteer efforts of our three moderators, we realized afterwards that having one person moderate all three groups would have provided more consistency in the lines of questions and heightened the opportunity to learn as we go. We also became aware of the importance and difficulty of framing a question correctly to elicit the responses we needed.  Examples include: not receiving information on how best to reach potential students/artists within a specific culture group with our information or messaging and what are their media habits, i.e., radio vs. print in English vs. Spanish.  We also did not receive the information we wanted to learn more about how best to approach and where to reach people in leadership positions for our board of directors. Finally, we observed that even within one focus group, that some responses negated others or were contradictory.

Incorporating Research Findings into Our Plan

In December 2006, the Inclusivity Committee met to review the focus group findings and brainstorm strategies to make the League more inclusive. The discussion revealed the following ideas to increase inclusiveness:

Key Discussion Points

  • n We need to network to increase board diversity.
  • n ASL teaches "European" arts. If we want to reach a more diverse audience, we need to expand, exploring the genre, art forms and techniques of other cultures.
  • n Hold shows opened to non-League artists to attract more artists.
  • n Reach out to CHAC and other culturally focused organizations.
  • n Expand seasonal workshops and programs that correspond to festivals, celebrations and milestones of other cultures.
  • n Because our faculty is made up of working, professional artists who spend most of their time making art in their studios, each artist teaches only one or two classes at the League. Requesting these artists to go off-sight and teach in neighborhood facilities that are not set-up or equipped for art classes (available easels, sinks, storage, etc.), and because there would be additional transportation and prep time requiring an increase to tuition fees, the League is presented with very real barriers to fulfilling this request.
  • n We need to leverage word-of-mouth advertising. One possible strategy is to use "scholarship" to introduce new people to the League and encourage them to tell their friends and family about us.
  • n We will focus on the areas of success. Because the League was established as an adult art school, in lieu of expanding children's classes, we will direct our marketing efforts to bring in more culturally diverse, people with disabilities and young adult students.

Considerations for 2007

  • n Make connections through complementary classes. We could offer a select number of free classes to attract a more diverse audience, or we could offer scholarships to a selected number of people so they could attend one of our current classes.
  • n Expand one-day and/or weekend intensive/sampler workshops. Using a variety of media, genre and themes centered on specific cultures, we may develop brief or specialized classes that would catch the imaginations of new students. These samplers potentially would be used as models for future classes.
  • n Lecture/hands-on experience series, combining art history with the making of art that is culturally specific or adjusted to accommodate people with disabilities.
  • n Seasonal workshops with a cultural bent that coincide with community ethnic fairs and celebrations. Examples: Day of the Dead, Black History Month, etc.
  • n Exhibition exchanges through partnerships with CHAC, Sankofa and other culturally specific art centers and galleries.
  • n Expanded Uninstructed classes - With membership, students can use studios to make their own art when classes are not in session. There are also inexpensive uninstructed figure classes, where artists can paint, draw or sculpt from models.
  • n Current students and members can potentially participate in the League's Summer Art Market, giving them the opportunity to sell and present their art as professionals. Throughout the year, marketing seminars are offered to students who want to become more aware and professional in the business of art.

Several of these suggestions were incorporated into the action plan in the following section.

Short and Long Range Plans

Priority Area - Mission, Vision and Values (Responsible Party = Board President and Executive Director with in-put from all stakeholders: faculty, staff, board and students)

Goal - Our mission statement reflects our definition of inclusiveness

Goal - Our core values reflect our definition of inclusiveness

Goal - Our mission and core values are incorporated into the League's 2007 Strategic Plan

Objective

Deadline

Responsible Party

Reaffirm and document core values to communicate inclusivity message

12/07

COMPLETED

Board President

Executive Director

Revise mission statement to communicate inclusivity message

12/07 COMPLETED

Board President

Executive Director

Verify that mission and core values with a message of inclusivity are included in our 2007 strategic plan

12/07 COMPLETED

Inclusivity Committee

Outcomes

  • Our mission statement is succinct, memorable and includes a message on inclusivity - In early 2007, we designed, distributed, and analyzed a more comprehensive demographic and satisfaction survey to faculty, members, and students. This survey indicated an 84% overall satisfaction rating by faculty, members and students, and a high assessment of the League supporting an inclusive community.
  • Our core values communicate our message of inclusivity - We intentionally re-visit our inclusivity accomplishments at every staff and board meeting and include the topic at every level of organizational planning.
  • The new strategic plan includes the new mission and values statements - Reviewed and ratified by the League's Board of Directors at Fall Board Retreat and December 2007 meeting.

Priority Area - Board of Directors (Responsible Party = Board of Directors and Executive Director)

 

Goal - Build a sustainable, engaged and diverse board

Goal - Board is engaged in the process of inclusivity to ensure its long range commitment

Objective

Deadline

Responsible Party

Build a recruiting process that encompasses our definition of inclusivity

08/07 COMPLETED

Board of Directors

Executive Director

Establish mentoring program for board members

08/07 COMPLETED

Board of Directors

Executive Director

Inform and recruit board members to participate in community activities

06/07

ALWAYS ONGOING

Inclusivity Committee Co-Chairs

Executive Director

Outcomes

  • Increase number of new board members who represent diverse communities - Addition of two new board members of color in mid-2007 and further recruiting in this area for 2008 new slate of board members.
  • Board members are involved as ambassadors for ASLD in diverse communities - Demonstrated by outreach of board members in activities sponsored by GLBT, Hispanic, Asian, and Indian communities.

 

Priority Area - Programs and Constituents (Responsible Party = Executive Director with student and faculty input)

Goal - Make connections with diverse individuals and organizations whose purpose has a cultural focus

Goal - Collaborate with faculty to build effective partnerships and programs

Objective

Deadline

Responsible Party

Create the League's calendar of programs and events based on diverse events in the community such as Black History Month, Dia de los Muertos, Gay Pride Parade, etc.

06/07 COMPLETED

Executive Director

Hold workshops or other events (one-day and weekend samplers, seasonal workshops, gallery and art center exchanges) in conjunction with community events and festivals such as Black History Month, Gay Pride Parade, etc. Link programmatic and other elements

12/07

COMPLETED

Executive Director

Research and identify possible collaborators/partners with organizations who have diverse constituents

07/07 COMPLETED

Executive Director

Determine which collaborations and partnerships are most critical to our success (e.g., Sankofa, CHAC, VSA, cultural art historians, etc.)

08/07 COMPLETED

Executive Director

Invite faculty to report on their collaborations and partnerships in the community

12/07

COMPLETED

Executive Director

Offer new culturally focused courses

12/07 COMPLETED

Executive Director

Bring in guest faculty from diverse groups

12/07 COMPLETED

Executive Director

Increase funding and participation of scholarship students and address transportation and parent follow-through challenges

12/07 ALWAYS ONGOING

Executive Director

Outcomes 

  • Each fiscal year, the League will participate in three or more collaborations with diverse arts organizations, centers, galleries or festival organizations. We will also make a concerted effort to partner with groups serving people with disabilities. These continued collaborations each year will help us solidify our relationships with these organizations. - The 2007-08 collaborations included Asian Arts Coordinating Council, Buntport Theatre, NEWSED Community Development Corporation that presents 17th annual Denver Cinco de Mayo celebration, Sankofa Arts Alliance, and Very Special Arts.
  • We will increase the number of Open Door Scholarships to accommodate the number of applications, and add funding requests to assist with transportation to the League - Funding in 2007-08 has exceeded $5,000 for Open Door Scholarships and submitting grant applications is an ongoing process throughout the year.
  • Faculty and staff will play an active role in sustaining partnerships and increasing community outreach. - Faculty members have formed a planning subcommittee which reports back to faculty meetings on partnerships and community outreach suggestions. Peter Durst is faculty board member liaison who reports to the Board of Directors. Student committee has recently been formed and addressing these topics.

Priority Area - Marketing, Public Relations and Community Relations (Responsible Party = Marketing Director and Marketing Committee of the Board)

 

Goal - Effectively reach an audience of potential constituents with diversity of age, income level, ethnicity and disability.

Objective

Deadline

Responsible Party

Prioritize and refine target markets

6/07

COMPLETED

Marketing Director and Marketing Committee

Identify external communication vehicles to reach top 2 or 3 target markets

9/07

COMPLETED

Marketing Director and Marketing Committee

Determine messaging for target markets

9/07

COMPLETED

Marketing Director and Marketing Committee

Continue implementation of developed tactics to reach target markets

ONGOING THROUGH 8/08

Marketing Director and Marketing Committee

Develop and implement information gathering techniques and tools in order to analyze the diversity of our constituents

12/07 COMPLETED

Marketing Director and Marketing Committee

Communicate the ASLD inclusivity message and how to deliver it internally and externally. Audience includes faculty, students, members and board

12/07 COMPLETED

Marketing Director and Marketing Committee

 

 

Measurable Outcomes

  • Increase the number of advertising placements among diverse media - The League has initiated a multi-faceted approach in 2007 and 2008 that includes advertising in various media such as: Out Front Colorado, Urban Spectrum, Denver Black Pages, Latino Suave, El Semanario, and more.
  • Increase the percentage of diverse members, participants and prospects - We have gradually created an expanded group of stakeholders. A survey of members, students, and faculty in previous years showed demographics of 86% Caucasian, 3% Hispanic, 1% Native American, and 8% no answer. The 2006-07 survey indicated 5% African American, 3% Latino, 1% Asian, 1% Native American, and 90% Caucasian. Demographics of scholarship recipients and our children's summer art camps indicate the greatest movement in diversity as illustrated by: 11% African American, 15% Latino, 3% Asian, 2% Multi-racial, and 69% Caucasian.

 

Accountability Plan

We will hold ourselves accountable for implementing this plan by:

  • Participating in inclusivity training (board, staff and committee members)
  • Incorporating inclusivity in all of our plans on an ongoing basis. The Inclusivity Committee will conduct an annual review of plan to ensure that inclusivity is a component of each

 

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