Dear CultureSource Members,

When our calendars annually advance to December 1, many of us begin using daydreams, board reports, and holiday parties to look back at the last 11 months' activities and to imagine the year ahead.

In my own season-driven reflection this year, I've been unexpectedly encouraged to dig deeper.

Eleven years ago, arts consultant Holly Sidford was an important spark and advisor in the incorporation of our alliance, and my recent chat with her was intended to help me reconstruct more of CultureSource's founding story—that is, looking at our past in order to build a better future. As I described to Holly our current aspirations for helping our members thrive, she suggested I look back at the 2012 "Bright Spots" arts leadership study. Though now six years old, its research findings have gained elegance with age in articulating attributes of successful nonprofits. Check it out!

The op-ed in this Sunday's New York Times, "End the Innovation Obsession," further reinforced Holly's intuition: retrospection itself can give past ideas and tools new power in contemporary contexts that can be "as transformative as novel technologies."

  • How can the design of human-center social spaces of the past provide inspiration for designing arts venues today?
  • How can attributes of historically effective community organizers help us reimagine core connections to our patrons? (The answer may not be in the App Store or in a new CRM module.)
  • How can the sustainability of non-arts sector institutions highlight core elements of longevity we might strive for? (Consider gleaning insights from libraries and temples instead of Watson-powered economic projections.)
  • What arts presentation bombed a few years ago that might have new resonance given today's particular political dynamics?

As a forward-focused balance, the same day I read the op-ed I received a happenstance reminder in line at a cafe from Zingerman's co-founder Paul Saginaw about the benefits of developing a future vision that generates intrinsic excitement and filters decisions. The Zingerman’s visioning method is a good one, and I encourage you to use it as you plan 2019 and beyond.

Please, take some time this season to look back and look forward...and please hear in your ear our CultureSource team cheering you on the whole way.

Best wishes,
Omari