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Community Initiative Regional Meetings What We Heard and What’s Next

Lisa Simmons, Program Manager

Woman listening to a session at the Mass Cultural Council Insitute

We conducted a series of 13 regional meetings across the state this summer as a follow up to the Mass Cultural Council Institute held in March 2018. The meetings gave us an opportunity to convene cities and towns by region to talk about our new strategic plan and Power of Culture messaging platform.

During those meetings we also heard from you about your needs and how we can continue to support your work. They offered a chance to reflect on current practices, to learn from other communities in the region, and fostered relationships across cities and towns.

As a follow up, we sent attendees a survey that generated some great responses. We are taking those responses and developing a more detailed plan of action.

Some themes that surfaced from these various interactions include:

  • The importance of collaboration
  • Visibility for cultural programs and events in communities
  • Understanding who is not in the room
  • Using the Power of Culture platform (e.g., to inspire people, break down barriers, help people express themselves, engage communities, or create regional identity)

Our next set of Community Initiative regional meetings will be in Spring 2019.

Some findings:

What were the top two takeaways from the meeting that you found most valuable?

  • I was happy to have met representatives from each of the communities attending. I was not familiar with how the cultural community worked so I was happy to have learned more about it.
  • Meeting and talking with others – finding out what they’re doing. Hearing about Mass Cultural Council and getting a better understanding what LCCs can do.
  • I learned that our personal experiences shape/form and inform the power of culture; and that we need to diversify outreach to different industries to build new partnerships and support artists in non-traditional ways.
  • Meeting and comparing notes with members of nearby cultural councils. Getting a better understanding of the state council’s strategic objectives and terms.

What type of help would be important right now?

  • In Greenfield, we have started using the model of the Cultural Compact to have conversations with various sectors of the community arts/business/town gov’t, etc to talk about ways we can adopt/adapt this model to work for us.
  • Visibility. We are always trying to find ways to get the message out of who we are and what we do. We want to be a regional cultural resource.
  • I think Mass Cultural Council’s role in connecting us with other artists and arts administrators — and generally sharing knowledge and best practices — is significant, and one of the most valuable roles they can play.

What have you done in your community using what you learned from the meeting? If nothing, do you plan to take action, and how?

  • I had 3 follow-up meetings with colleagues in neighboring communities and made some really great contacts. I am also working on a Cultural District designation for a village in my region.
  • We are gearing up for a strategic plan so working on incorporating Power of Culture principles for that.
  • Nothing yet – we have our next meeting next week and plan to review the Power of Culture materials and discuss opportunities to expand our role in the town (and vote on the direction the council wants to go in).

I am working to connect organizations and talk to them about how we can better present the wealth of arts and culture happenings in the area.

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