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The Collective Impact Work

Work Groups Quarterly Update

by Imagine MKE on Mar 5, 2021
Work Groups Quarterly Update

Imagine MKE kicked off the new year with a re-launch of our Work Groups. These groups convene to achieve an arts and culture forward Milwaukee that doesn't belong to one person, or one organization. The members of the Work Groups are leaders across all sectors - private, public, faith, government, education, and community. Learn more about how the Work Groups are moving forward in 2021 and how you can join a Work Group, by reading this quarterly update. You can also learn more by visiting our Work Group page. 

Marketing and PR

In 2021, the Marketing and PR Work Group is tailoring our work to address the shifting needs of our city's artists and arts organizations during the COVID-19 crisis. We know we'll need to be flexible as the world changes, and so are focusing on helping the sector during the anticipated phases of this year - getting through the continued shut down, beginning to come back to public life, and emerging into a new and better "normal." In other words, we're asking the questions - what will we need during these stages to survive, revive, and thrive, and what does success look like in these stages?  

At our last Work Group meeting in February, attendees brainstormed around these exact questions. What emerged from those conversations were four priority projects that the Work Group plans to expand upon in the coming months:  

Revive: Campaigns about coming back to public life when safe, both arts-focused and cross-sector  

Survive: Create artist-led campaigns to activate advocacy data  

Survive: Communications/newsletter that tells the story about diverse arts and culture system addressed to elected officials 

Thrive: Introduce a South by Southwest concept 

Our next Work Group meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 23 at 2:00 pm. We will focus our conversation on the first project listed above (Campaigns about coming back to public life) and all are welcome to attend. Interested in plugging into our work, or have any questions? E-mail Lindsay at lsheridan [at] imaginemke [dot] com. 

Public Policy

The Public Policy and Engagement Group met on 2/5 to reorient, reconnect, and to begin charting a path for public policy and organizing in 2021. While the discussion during the meeting was wide ranging and covered many of the successes and open projects from 2020, the immediate next steps for 2021 focused on three main strategies: 

  • Developing a research agenda and then beginning to collect the data (or partner with organizations/institutions who has access and can analyze the data) to support the importance of creativity and cultural production in Milwaukee.   
  • Having a place online to house and deploy this research and to grow our networks and peer networking. Other work group have suggested a similar solution, which could look like be an online community or sector-wide intranet.   
  • Creating a scorecard for arts and cultural leadership to better understand and keep track of how elected officials, businesses, and philanthropy have led for our sector.  

What’s exciting is that these strategies cross over and align with the other work groups. For example, the research agenda helps to support some of the surveying priorities of the Support for Artist work group and the online community strategy supports some of the conversations that have been ongoing in the Marketing and PR group and the Small Arts and Culture group.  

Some action commitments that have been made – and completed! – include amplifying and promoting organizational successes, placing an op-ed about the Governor’s Executive budget, and starting work on the pilot online community and creating an inventory of existing research.  

If you’re interested in helping us shape our research agenda or if you would like to help us build the pilot online community, please reach out to David at dlee [at] imaginemke [dot] org. 

Neighborhood Partnerships

We want all of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods to be vibrant as a result of having abundant arts and culture.  We work to enable artists and arts/culture groups to partner with neighborhood organizations to cultivate safe, inclusive communities through creativity and culture across five neighborhoods: Amani, Metcalfe Park, Muskego Way, Clark Square and VIA.  We started by compiling our Partner Neighborhood Strategy Guide, which is comprised of our neighborhoods’ improvement plans (Amani United & The Dominican Center’s Revitalization Plan; Metcalfe Park Community Bridges Revitalization Plan, Milwaukee Christian Center’s Muskego Way Forward Plan, Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative Quality of Life Plan and VIA’s Quality of Life Plan).  From there, we learned that these five areas have shared goals around Public Safety, Youth Development, Civic Engagement and Economic Development. 

Our goal this year is to conduct at least 50 arts and cultural interventions to that advance those goals.  Our first Work Group meeting this year was to introduce our neighborhood leaders to our participating arts and cultural organizations, and since then the Metcalfe Park and VIA neighborhood groups have already met.  You can see our progress on what activations are being planned and being implemented here. 

  • If you’re an artist or creative, or from an arts and cultural organization who’d like to connect, we invite you to review this summary of the neighborhood plans, and see where you think your organization might be able fit in.  We’d be happy to connect you to the neighborhood organization(s). 
  • If you’re not from one of the above neighborhoods, you’re still welcome to come and identify new ideas or partnerships to augment what you’ve already got going on in your community.  Just sign up to join our work group and we’ll let you know when we’re meeting again. 

Support for Artists

What’s ahead for the Support for Artist Workgroup?

Hopefully, system changes that support BIPOC artists and artists across disciplines.

What that looks like and how we get there depends solely on us.

My last blog invited you into our work, painted my vision for Milwaukee’s arts and culture sector. It also invited you to share your dreams with me so we could work towards that vision together.

When I look at our work, there’s several voices missing from the table. More BIPOC folks and other marginalized groups. Voices from different creative disciplines like podcasters, writers (for books, screenplays etc.), makeup artists, fashion designers, dancers, musicians (across disciplines). We need them.

You see, we don’t just have an equity issue across ethnicity but across disciplines as well. This is something I observed as an artist manager. I see it more in my role here at Imagine as I work to find resources for other arts disciplines. So the idea of being a part of the change here in Milwaukee is what wakes me every day.

Some of the tasks I’m working on in role includes:

  • Connecting artists to resources like skills based trainings and working with industry professionals to establish open hours
  • Working with creative staffing agencies to promote jobs in the creative spaces
  • Creating visibility opportunities in the private sector for art partnerships

I can also share one of Imagine MKE’s organization goals is for 500 artists to state they are better off (as it relates to access to resources like money, opportunities for work, visibility as an artist). 300 of these artists need to identify as BIPOC.

I’d love to consider how our workgroup can support this through our strategies.

One way we could consider working towards this goal is designing and distributing an artist census. Right now, we don’t have access to statistics that state where are artists NOW in order to establish what our current baseline is. This is something that could help the entire system as we build a better Milwaukee arts scene… together.

Finally, our next meeting is April 14, 2021 at 2pm. When we meet, we’ll be working on power mapping as out first step together. Power mapping is one way we can account for who we have access to in the system and who we NEED access to. It’s a comprehensive tool that can be shared across workgroups and a working document we can continue to add to. It helps us begin the equity work I mentioned above.

So what can you do right now? There’s a couple things.

  1. You can invite folks who are missing from the table. Perhaps, commit to bringing one person. And, if you’re unsure of HOW to talk about our work… let’s set up a meeting.
  2. Listen to this incredible series on collective impact work. I’m listening to it now. This helps set the stage for HOW our work together should look and feel.
  3. Mark your calendar for April 14th 2021 at 2pm for our next workgroup meeting

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