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Sitka Center Think Tank

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					                    Sitka Center for Art and Ecology Think Tank
                        Art Invitational: The Next Generation
                                    Feb. 13, 2007

                      SUMMARY NOTES • DRAFT 2-27-2007


    The mission of the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology is to expand the relationships
   between art, nature and humanity through workshops, presentations, and individual
 research projects, and to maintain a facility appropriate to its needs that is in harmony
              with the inspirational coastal environment of Cascade Head.

Think Tank Process
As part of the Sitka Center 2020 Planning Process, the Sitka Center convened a series of
five generative conversations in February 2007 to gain insights into promising practices
and opportunities for the future. The Art Invitational: The Next Generation think tank
brought together a group of individuals with diverse knowledge and perspectives to think
together about (1) the origins and distinctiveness of the Sitka Center’s Art Invitational,
(2) the larger forces or trends that will influence the Art Invitational in the future, and (3)
which opportunities hold particular promise for evolving the Art Invitational for the next
generation. Findings from all five think tanks will be synthesized to feed into a future
focused vision and plan for the Sitka Center, to be completed in the spring of 2007.

Attendees
 Pam Baker (Convener), Sitka Center Art Invitational Committee, Colliers
   International
 Carolyn Cole, Artist
 Alison Hart, Marketing Director of Auction Pay
 Karen Manning, Marketing Director of Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects, and
   Former Director of ArtQuake
 Toni Morgan, Former Sitka Center Board President and Long-Term Member of the
   Art Invitational Committee
 Todd Putnam, Owner of a Framing Resource, Sitka Art Invitational Sponsor
 Mary Verdurmen, Sitka Center Art Invitational Collector, formerly with Dell
   Computers
 Stephanie Wiarda, Co-Owner of Beppu Wiarda Gallery, Former Sitka Center Board
   Member and Director
 Greg Wilbur, Artist and Sitka Center Art Invitational Committee
 Douglas Beauchamp, Sitka Center Executive Director
 Paula Manley, Facilitator
History of the Sitka Center Art Invitational
Toni Morgan opened the discussion by providing her reflections on the evolution of the
Art Invitational, which began as an outgrowth of a fundraiser at Salishan that raised
$5,000 to $7,000. She highlighted Gary Maffei’s connections and knowledge as keys to
the early growth and success of the Invitational. In addition, his staff played a crucial role
in administration for the first several years before the Sitka Center staff took on these
functions. Historically, a committee of about 10 people has organized the Art
Invitational. This included a chair and co-chair, which assured leadership succession for
the committee with the chair position rotating each year. According to Toni, the
committee had fun and worked well as a team: “Everyone knew their part so it didn’t
really matter who served as chair in any given year.” Although Pete Porter (a Sitka
Center Board member) has contributed steadily as an active member of the Art
Invitational Committee for many years, she said there has not been much direct Sitka
Center board involvement and the committee has operated fairly autonomously. In recent
years, a contractor was hired a few times to provide support for the Invitational, and
Alison Hart’s work (as a contractor) was also significant in organizing computer systems
for greatly improved efficiencies. The funds raised at the Art Invitational have played an
essential role in filling a gap in the Sitka Center’s annual budget. In looking to the future,
Toni emphasized the importance of clarifying the event’s goals and “who runs the show.”

Reflections on the Distinctiveness of the Sitka Center Art Invitational
Participants responded to the question, “From your unique perspective, what is
distinctive about the Art Invitational, including the event’s special qualities and its
challenges?” Participants identified the following qualities that make the Art Invitational
special:
 A gathering of quality arts and artists. This is an event that supports and promotes
    artists. The quality of the art is excellent and has improved over the years. A vast
    array of artwork is featured, including items in a range of price points and many
    different media.
 At the core: relationships and fun. The artists love the event. They appreciate the
    camaraderie with other artists (especially the Artists Party). The Invitational generates
    a large audience for their work and a lot of art sells. The artists appreciate that they
    receive half of the sale price. The galleries have been supportive, especially in 2006
    with the introduction of the auction. The sponsorship potential for the Invitational has
    not been fully tapped.
 An inviting ambience. The World Forestry Center, with its rustic and warm feeling,
    has helped to create “good vibes” for the event. The crew responsible for set up of the
    Invitational does a great job hanging and lighting the show (salon style). They enjoy
    working together and have consistently created a wonderful ambience. The food (in
    2006) was good quality.
 Good administrative systems. Effective computerized administrative systems are in
    place, which have greatly improved the efficiency of the Invitational.



Sitka Center for Art & Ecology Think Tank Findings • Art Invitational: The Next Generation • Feb. 13, 2007   p. 2
Participants identified the following as areas: to be improved and/or revisited for the
future:
 Leadership and integration. Board leadership/involvement is needed to clarify the
    goals of the Art Invitational and assure it is integrated with other Sitka Center
    activities and fund development efforts. Participants emphasized that a stronger
    connection with the Sitka Center’s mission and operations is essential.
 Selection process. Some attendees noted that the informal art selection system should
    change to assure that artists understand the selection criteria. Is the Invitational
    primarily a vehicle for showcasing artists and residents who have been involved with
    the Sitka Center? Is the Invitational seeking to involve a broader cross-section of
    artists, including emerging artists? Clarifying and articulating the criteria and process
    to artists will be crucial to maintain goodwill.
 Venue. The venue has served well in the past with ample parking and a rustic
    environment seems a good match for the Sitka Center’s mission. However, a few
    participants suggested that the Invitational has outgrown the Forestry Center and that
    more space is needed for the show and related events such as the auction dinner.
 Follow up. The Art Invitational attracts a large audience, but there has been no
    “audience capture” to enable follow up communication and cultivation of new
    supporters. Also, two participants said they have found it “hard to get involved with
    the Sitka Center,” e.g., previous requests to add their names to the mailing list fell
    through the cracks.
 Timing. Because a handful of big art events are already scheduled in Portland each
    spring, and the Invitational is so well-established, participants suggested that fall
    remains the best season. A few suggested earlier in the fall as a possibility.
 Connecting artists and collectors. The 2006 Invitational included a preview evening
    for collectors only. Inviting artists as well as collectors could strengthen this event by
    providing an opportunity to connect these two groups.

External Trends and Implications
Participants created a “mind map” of trends in response to the question, “What forces or
trends in the external environment will influence the evolution of the Sitka Center Art
Invitational?” The following clusters of trends stood out as being particularly significant:
Population growth and the aging of the population are supportive trends for the future
of the Art Invitational, including the increasing number of active baby boomers who are
nearing retirement age and have discretionary income. A related trend is the increase
in bequest opportunities.
The Art Invitational may also benefit from the public’s growing interest in
environmental and sustainability issues. The Sitka Center’s mission, which embodies
art and ecology, will be attractive to the growing ranks of individuals who are interested
in living more in harmony with the natural world.
A new younger generation of donors is emerging, and this group likes direct
involvement in the organizations they contribute to. This younger generation is also


Sitka Center for Art & Ecology Think Tank Findings • Art Invitational: The Next Generation • Feb. 13, 2007   p. 3
tech-savvy and expects the organizations they invest in to utilize technology well.
Online fundraising (including online auctions) and e-communications are on the rise, a
trend that will become even more significant in future years.
Other influential trends include the increasing numbers of artists and galleries, and the
growing reputation of Portland as a hub of arts and cultural activity.
A challenging trend for the future of the Art Invitational is level of competition for
attention with more organizations and events vying for the attention of donors and the
public. This includes more nonprofits (other than arts groups) raising money through the
arts (e.g., school art auctions). For a list of all the trends identified by participants in the
mind mapping exercise, see page 5.

Synthesis Dialogue
For the final part of the think tank dialogue participants focused on the question,
“Thinking back on what we’ve discussed today, what do you see as promising practices
or opportunities for the Sitka Center in evolving the Art Invitational for the next
generation?” Participants discussed the following ideas:
 Connect the Invitational with the Sitka Center mission and organization. As one
    participant noted, “The mission is the plumb line. Everything the Sitka Center does
    needs to connect back to the mission and values. That is your most powerful tool.”
    Participants suggested that many environmentally-minded people in Portland would
    support the Sitka Center’s ecology orientation if it were more emphasized; people feel
    that is valuable whether or not they have ever been to the Sitka Center.
 Involve youth with an expanded education focus. Create more opportunities to
    involve youth, e.g., extending invitations to schools to tour the show (which could tie
    to grant opportunities), offering artist demonstrations, or even creating a separate
    show for high school artists.
 Maximize fundraising opportunities. Participants suggested it would be possible to
    raise more money through the Art Invitational, while continuing to serve artists and
    the larger community well. There are additional corporate sponsorship possibilities,
    especially if additional benefits are included such as exposure on the Sitka Center
    website or e-communications. A series of dinners in collectors’ homes could raise
    funds as part of the Invitational. An online auction could be organized (with the
    potential to auction, wine, free trips, etc., not necessarily artwork).
 Recognize the heart of the event. There is a value beyond the money raised at this
    event. One participant commented that the Invitation’s specialness stems from “the
    commitment to involving a wide range of art and artists and the intermingling of
    patrons, collectors, artists and students.” Another commented, “This event pulls in a
    broad base of socially aware people who want to give back. This includes volunteers,
    artists, art patrons, and event underwriters. The Invitational captures the heart of the
    artist… A ball of energy is coalescing around this event and we can’t lose that.”




Sitka Center for Art & Ecology Think Tank Findings • Art Invitational: The Next Generation • Feb. 13, 2007   p. 4
                                                 Attachment


                             Sitka Center for Art and Ecology Think Tank
                               Art Invitational: The Next Generation


                             EXTERNAL TRENDS FROM MIND MAP

 “What trends in the external environment will influence the next generation of the Sitka
Center’s Art Invitational?” Think tank participants identified the following trends and
then “voted” (with dots) for those likely to have the greatest impact:

        Aging population, boomers retiring in large numbers, many with discretionary
         income, additional bequest opportunities (9 dots)
        Growing interest in the environment, sustainability issues, etc. (8 dots)
        Growing competition for attention (6 dots)
        More artists, more galleries, more young creatives (6 dots)
        Growth of online fundraising, e-communications, etc. (5 dots)
        Younger generation of donors emerging, seeking direct involvement in the groups
         they fund (5 dots)
        Population growth in Oregon (5 dots)
        More nonprofits raising money with the arts (e.g., auctions) (4 dots)
        National reputation of Portland as an arts and culture hub (2 dots)
        Increasing tendency for groups to partner (e.g., Classic wine auction) (2 dots)
        Nesting instinct to make homes beautiful, “pottery barn” age (2 dots)
        More nonprofit groups merging
        Continuing decline in arts funding for schools
        Lower taxes and private sector being asked to fill the gap




Sitka Center for Art & Ecology Think Tank Findings • Art Invitational: The Next Generation • Feb. 13, 2007   p. 5

				
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