Lifting Philadelphia Higher, Pushing Access Further

Hand-drawn image of a thought map. The word Growth is in the middle with several lines coming from it. The lines end at 6 circles creating a perimeter around the center word. Each circle has one word in it. The words starting at the top and moving clockwise are Programs, Advocacy, Board, Funding, Art-Reach, Sector. Each of the circled perimeter words has additional lines extending from it ending at various other related words

Planning during a pandemic is hard. We did it anyway and I am glad we did.

For a while now Art-Reach has been asking, What’s Next? We are finally sharing the answer. If all goes well, by 2025 Philadelphia will be among the most accessible cities in the country, Art-Reach will be influencing the national conversation on arts accessibility, and people with disabilities will have a greater role in leading institutions to create a more accessible world. And those are just a few of the goals.

With the approval of Art-Reach’s 2022 – 2025 strategic plan, Art-Reach is going to Change the world, this is how, the organization examined every single aspect of its work. Here are the highlights:

Strategic Leadership

  • The Art-Reach Board dissolved almost all of its traditional committees and reorganized under three new strategic focus committees: Influential Leadership, Broader Reach, and Business Model. The Executive Committee will continue to oversee governance and finance

Renewed Focus on Growth in 5 Operational Areas

  • Education & Learning Initiatives:
    We will advance the cultural sector so that sites, programs, and policies are more accessible, while also preparing the next generation of accessibility leaders in the arts.
  • Infrastructure & Capacity:
    We will be innovative in the work we do, and how we do our work. We will adapt our operations – we will implement systems to automate operations and expand the capacity of the staff while developing a nimble foundation for our work. We will create a replicable model of operation to prepare for expansion beyond the Philadelphia region.
  • Board Innovation:
    Art-Reach’s Board will represent its audiences, be innovative in their approach to governance, and will focus on strategy over operation.
  • Communication and Marketing:
    We tell compelling stories – we tell them through innovative platforms, with representative audiences, and to everyone who will pay attention.
  • Impact:
    We will create the most inclusive arts sector in the United States – we will build representative audiences and provide the support needed by arts organizations. We will build strategic alliances and large scale collaborative efforts to drive systemic change. We will collect as much data as we can so that we are accountable to our results.

Centering the Humanity of Its Staff

Art-Reach embraces the need to provide breathing room to its team. In addition to their regular PTO and holiday schedule, Art-Reach also  provides every employee with 156 annual hours to support their mental health. In addition, the staff developed 7 shared values that will define the way we work. These values were included in the approval of Art-Reach’s new strategic plan.

  • We value a collaborative process in planning, implementation, and evaluation that includes different perspectives and informs the vision for everything that Art-Reach hopes to accomplish.
  • We value trust as the root of our conversations, plans, and in the work we do. Trust allows us to have open and honest conversations, facilitates healthy conflict, and creates straightforward evaluation of our work. The trust we have in each other creates accountability for everyone to Art-Reach’s vision.
  • We value lived experience, perspective, and background of our coworkers, interns, volunteers. We embrace anti-ableism and anti-racism practices to create systemic change through intentional changes in policy, action, and programs.
  • We value experimentation as our way toward innovation. Along the way we embrace risk and failure as critical components to creating an environment where we continuously learn and grow as we make systemic change happen.
  • We value choice in how and when we work. Every Art-Reach employee has autonomy to choose when to prioritize their work, their family, or any other commitment that is important to them in ways that allow for their personal, mental, and physical well-being.
  • We value exploration in professional and personal development through formal and informal learning opportunities. In line with the various ways people absorb information Art-Reach supports its team in pursuit of growth while embracing a community of learning. Art-Reach does not consider formal education as a prerequisite for employment.
  • We value teamwork and the interrelation of our roles. Art-Reach colleagues understand that their work directly impacts the work of their colleagues. Teamwork between departments is critical to ensure success across the organization.

Nothing will come easy but this plan lays out the path ahead that we have envisioned. I invite you to wander down that path with Art-Reach and be part of a movement that changes the world.

John Orr
Executive Director, Art-Reach