12 Jul Hamilton County Artists’ Association
A New Strategic Plan Lays Out a Clear Vision and Bold Steps for Arts Organization
The Hamilton County Artists’ Association has been around for more than 60 years and has weathered countless shifts in culture, the economic climate, and makeup of the local community. HCAA’s dedication to promoting visual art in Hamilton County has lead to the development of several wonderful community programs, including the Fall Show at the Noblesville Library, and the annual Gathering of Plein Air Painters.
But like so many other arts resources in Hamilton County, HCAA is something of a hidden gem. The all-volunteer-run organization has struggled to play a prominent, valued role in the community and ensure itself a bright, vibrant future. However, HCAA started the new year with a new perspective—the organization unveiled a new strategic plan focused on boosting its visibility and connection to the local community, as well as to gather vital resources for the future. Here are the highlights of the plan and how they created it:
Hamilton County Tourism Inc. provided a grant that paid for consultant Peggy Monson from IMPACT LLC to help guide the organization through the development of a strategic plan. Rodney Reveal, HCAA President 2013-2014, cultivated a planning team that represented various features and characteristics of the organization’s overall membership and ensured that the process would move forward. The team created a survey about the organization and distributed it among their membership. The results of that survey shaped the backbone of the new plan.
- Rodney Reveal, HCAA president 2013-2014
- Linda Tyler, HCAA president 2015-2016
- Leroy O’Dell | Shawn Deitch | Kay Richards Larry Hamilton | Lelsey Haflich | Patty MacInnis Kristin Whitney
After the team reviewed their survey, they decided to tweak their mission statement. Their newly adopted mission states:
“The Hamilton County Artists’ Association is a nonprofit arts organization whose mission is to provide opportunities for artistic development, fellowship, and art appreciation to its members and the community, thereby enhancing the quality of life in Hamilton County.”
HCAA started 2015 with a bang. The organization has already started utilizing digital tools such as MailChimp and SignUpGenius to make communication more efficient and effective. HCAA has upgraded its facility with a new closet and improved filling system. The organization has recruited a new set of officers and implemented the new committee structure, complete with job descriptions.
After three months of working in this new structure, many members have been singing the praises of this new process.
“Having job descriptions is huge progress. A structure that’s defined with greater commitment from juried members means that you don’t get to just provide potato chips,” Larry Hamilton says. “We burned out our last membership chairman because they had to do it all and no one would help them.”
By running more like an organization with defined roles and responsibilities, those vested in the cause share the workload and gain more gratification by sharing their talents.
Throughout the rest of 2015, they HCAA team wants to closely examine their existing programs, evaluate their overall effectiveness and identify potential tweaks to make in the future. They also will be building more fundraising capacity and reviewing their marketing strategy.
In 2016, look for the organization to become more proactive about getting involved with other events and organizations, implement new evaluation techniques for programming and marketing, and make more changes to its building. HCAA might even unveil a new logo or branding!
Sometime in the next few years, the organization hopes to hire a part-time program coordinator and a development manager to strengthen its efforts and keep it rolling forward. This will require HCAA to increase revenue, so you can expect it to be testing new fundraising opportunities soon.
There are sure to be challenges with all of this change, as members get used to new roles, new responsibilities, and a new mission. But the organization has great momentum behind it, carried forward by the wise and thoughtful leadership of many members.
“This strategic plan can pull us into the current time and make us a vital organization in the community … I hope that five years down the road we have people in line to buy our art and be a part of our organization,” says Linda Tyler, HCAA president 2015-2016.
As HCAA makes progress on each of its key priorities, look for the organization to become more visible, more connected to your needs and interests, and better equipped to make sure that art is a part of daily life in Hamilton County!
HCAA has traditionally been made up of a collection of juried members and supporting members. Each year in December, a selection committee reviews submissions by hopeful local artists and selects new juried members on the basis of their artistic merit.
Supporting members don’t have to undergo such a rigorous process—they tend to be community members who care about the arts and want to contribute, but aren’t necessarily artists themselves. Every two years, the membership nominates a new president, whose job it has been to administer the organization, including overseeing fundraising, ensuring that programs are implemented and overseeing the coordination of exhibitions.
Through the process of surveying members and creating this strategic plan, the team was surprised to find that on average, members have been part of the organization for six years or less. The new plan specifies greater participation from juried members, including a much more robust committee structure so that everyone has a more clear, effective role to play in the overall success of the organization.
The Birdie Gallery
In 2007, HCAA opened the Birdie Gallery, formerly the First Baptist Church, located at 195 S. 5th Street in Noblesville, and this historically significant [AM1] building now serves at the organization’s main headquarters and primary exhibition space. The City of Noblesville granted HCAA 10% ownership of the building in 2006, and HCAA raised funds and in-kind donations to cover the renovation and improvement of the building.
The gallery gets its name in memory of Roberta Bloomhorst, whose husband Ken created a trust fund in her honor to support the gallery and other arts initiatives. This lovely building, with its inspiring story and generous partnership with the city, is a wonderful home for the artist association. Tucked away, a bit off the beaten path, it’s worth going just a little out of your way to check out this fun, unique gem. The gallery is open Thursday- Saturday from 10- 5, March through December.
To become a supporting member of HCAA, visit its website (HCAA-in.org/join) or drop by the Birdie Gallery. Supporting memberships are $40 for individuals, $50 for families, $10 for students and $55 for nonprofits and businesses. You can also join HCAA, the Fishers Arts Council, and Nickel Plate Arts all at once by becoming a Nickel Plate Arts Community Member; just visit NickelPlateArts.org/art-lovers/membership or call 317-452-3690.