May 25, 2011

Artistic Mission from Vision and Values

This past weekend I taught strategic planning to individual artists at the San Francisco Arts Commission on behalf of the Center for Cultural Innovation. I had met with this same group off artists in April to talk about Vision, Values and Goals. In between our two meetings the artists met in sessions with several of my consulting colleagues to explore marketing, PR, fundraising, financial and legal issues relating to running a sole proprietorship arts business.

In our second meeting we began with discussing their artistic Mission. I was skeptical about discussing mission all the way at the end of their training series, as opposed to at the start. But it was a good choice. The artists had synthesized their thoughts and the bar had been raised on their level of professionalism in their ability to talk clearly about the business of their art.

As we explored Mission many of the artists had "Aha!" moments as they stood at the front of the room and diagrammed their Vision and Values. I explained that Mission is the vehicle they choose to pursue their Vision, and Values inform the choices they make in how they operate that vehicle. Many artists or even corporations may have the same Vision - how they ideally see the world - but their Values and Mission are what makes them unique in that pursuit.

As the artists explored their Mission it was a slow and thoughtful process and I took on the role of the facilitator. As they put ideas out on the flip chart I would ask them, "To what end do you make this art? What is your greater intention?" to get them to their Vision. For Mission I would ask, "How do you bring these Values and Vision to the world?" That's when they would have their "Aha!" moment.

It was a beautiful process to foster. Those epiphany moments of clarity are fulfillment of my Mission of helping artists realize their fullest potential towards my Vision of people living their dreams.