Arts Council 101 – GFAC History V

Definition: Arts Council: A service agency established to foster the health and growth of arts and cultural programming within their defined service area. All disciplines of the arts are included: Music, Dance, Literature, Theater and Visual Arts.

Greetings! For the past few years GFAC has been involved in a capacity building program called BEST (Building Equity Sustainability and Trust). BEST has assisted us in evaluating ourselves, allowing others to evaluate us, improving our technology, strategic planning and assessing our capacity to grow.

One of the recurring themes from our research is that most people have a high opinion of GFAC, but they do not fully understand our mission. We have created this column to educate our members and others who may read this publication, so you may be our ambassadors.

Let’s see, “we last left our heroin in the deep dark forests of South America…”

It is the responsibility of an Arts Council to respond to the emerging needs of the community. In the early 1990’s GFAC strategic planners identified four areas where arts programming and support were needed. Some re-affirmed those identified at the Where’s Art Conferences a decade earlier. These areas would become the recipe for the next decade of successful programming for GFAC. They continue to be a vital part of program planning today.

Let’s review these areas stated in our last communication:

1) Support for Local Artists
a. Paying professional work in their chosen fields
b. Venues to showcase their products
c. Balance of support/programs between visual and performing arts
2) Support for Local Arts Agencies
a. Continuous dialogue
b. Funding initiatives
c. Collaborations
d. Audience development
3) Arts Education
a. K-12 education programs involving professional artists
b. Summer programs for youth
4) Marketing
a. Public involvement as creators
b. Public involvement as audience

1. Support for Local Artists

Some Arts Councils provide support services only, working mainly behind the scenes. Some Arts Councils also produce events, taking a more active role in providing quality programs to their communities. GFAC has assessed needs in both arenas and provides a wide array of support services and events. Many of our events are also support services. For example, exhibitions for Michigan artists serve the community by providing quality events for community members to participate in. Exhibitions can also be seen as a support service for local artists, providing them with a venue to introduce the public to their current works.

For the next few months I will be breaking down each of the 4 areas shown above and relating which GFAC services and events fit within them.

Keep an eye out for the November issue of Where’s Art where the GFAC story will continue.

Greg Fiedler