Glass House Collective is known for supporting  leadership and other capacity building programs for the residents of Glass Farm. We’re also students and participants in invaluable programs that help us increase our effectiveness as a non profit organization.  One such program we recently completed is the Chattanooga Arts Forward Initiative (AFI).

AFI was formed by a coalition of Chattanooga funding institutions with the primary aim of providing Chattanooga arts organizations with concepts, tools and a working process for leading the change they need and want as arts professionals, organizations, and as an arts community.

The content and structure of the initiative is based on the body of work developed by Arts Action Research (AAR) for the North Carolina Arts Council’s statewide New Realities Program and other consortium programs in the U.S. and Canada. Nello McDaniel, AAR Founder and Director, was lead consultant for this initiative.

GHC was selected in 2017 to participate along with eleven other local cross-discipline arts organizations in part because the AFI funding coalition believed that our organization was poised to benefit from the consultancy immediately, and that we were well positioned to contribute to the larger discussion about the arts in Chattanooga. We are incredibly proud that our organization and our impact have been recognized in this way and given this opportunity. We are also proud that we just received our AFI Certificate of Completion this past May!

Through the AFI program we were able to take time at the very beginning to look deeper into our organizational “profile” in a process that helped us define how best to use our year with these amazing consultants. We identified and chose to address two challenges and opportunities:  our board leadership structure and our strategic plan.

Our time with lead consultant, Nello McDaniel, was invaluable. Over the course of the year, GHC leadership were able to meet one-on-one with Nello. It was during these six individually focused sessions we were able to take the tools and ideas discussed in the previous roundtable discussions and apply them to Glass House Collective’s needs and priorities. This really helped us clarify our vision, values, mission, working structures, and systems.

As a result, we were able to start the process of drafting a new strategic plan, and we began creating a new distributive leadership structure for our board of directors.  Our readiness to act on these priorities empowered the GHC Board members to also form our first ever board committee, the governance committee. Recently they added two more committees, the internal and the external committees. We also have a newly-appointed board chair, vice-chair, secretary, and treasurer.

“Arts Forward has helped us articulate an assessment of the current status of our organization and has given us tools to begin the process of creating a strategy for the future. It has also provided great opportunities for us to gather with other professionals in the field of arts and culture,” GHC executive director, Teal Thibaud, stated.

As we look ahead and kick off our newest pilot this summer (Sway: The Peoples Guide To Community Organizing), we know it is opportunities such as Sway and AFI that makes us stronger together!

We are grateful to The Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga for coordinating the year long activities of the Chattanooga Arts Forward Initiative.

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