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artsPlace looking ahead to the years to come

artsPlace is looking to adapt to changing times by focusing on three aspirations as part of its new strategic plan.

CANMORE – Over the past two years, the world has seemed to change on almost a daily basis.

Those changes require various organizations to adapt and that is what artsPlace hopes to do with its new strategic plan.

“We did this back in November and December and there has been a lot happening in the world the last couple of years,” said Jeremy Elbourne, artsPlace executive director. “There have been conversations around many things. On a micro-level, we have all felt the impact of the pandemic and everything is amplified. Everything feels more intense.”

To create the strategic plan, three separate sessions were held, with the first two consisting of speaking with stakeholders that included staff, board members, instructors, artists, donors, and community leaders.

“We had about 65 people join us online at the first session and we asked people to dream in 10 years what would you like artsPlace to be,” Elbourne said. “From there, at the second session with the same group of people we narrowed it down a bit based on priority initiatives and goals.”

According to the strategic plan published online, it is inspired by themes of growth, accessibility, and positivity, which became the three aspirations for the arts organization to explore in its efforts to serve the Bow Valley community.

The first aspiration was to extend its reach beyond its current physical space.

“It is reaching out and looking at who we can partner with? How can we reach beyond our physical location now,” Elbourne said. “Are there opportunities to build? Are there other spaces out there? Who can we work with in that regard to expand our capacity?”

The second aspiration was to make artsPlace a model of diversity, accessibility, and well-being for all.

“Who are people who have barriers to participate here and how can we do a better job so that our program is reaching all residents of the Bow Valley?,” Elbourne said.

Part of this outreach will include continuing to work with Indigenous artists locally and at the Stoney Nakoda First Nation. Currently, the organization has an Indigenous liaison.

“We do a lot of work in that area. We have done a lot of outreach to the Stoney Nakoda Nation,” Elbourne said. “It is really examining what the needs are. Are there possibilities of physically bringing some of the things we do to the Stoney Nakoda Nation?”

The third aspiration for artsPlace is to make the organization a facilitator of positivity and social good. This includes having positive conversations in the community and reflecting what people are talking about.

“Art is something that has already played that role. It is a reflection of who we are as human beings,” Elbourne said. “It is how we tell our stories and communicate those things we want to communicate. Art has always played a role in making sure human beings do communicate. I think that is a role of an arts organization in a community.”

Moving forward, Elbourne sees the strategic plan as a commitment by artsPlace to continue to evolve in changing times. This is something that has already begun.

“We need to evolve as things do evolve. We have pivoted to doing online programming and we have streaming capabilities now,” Elbourne said. “Those are basic things, but it is something we should always try and do.”