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Strategic Plan

2003-2005
Presented to Folk Alliance Board of Directors | April 2003

Executive Summary

How can we best support our members over the next 3-5 years?
The Strategic Planning Committee met in November 2002 to answer this question. We determined that to best support our members, we had to be financially secure, more representative of the depth and breadth of folk music and dance in North America, and providing valuable services to strengthen our members.

Folk Alliance can build on its first fifteen years of development to become the recognized “go-to” organization for Folk Music and Dance in North America: the source for information on the field, and the source for networking, service and professional development for those working in the field.

Folk Alliance has two overarching strengths that uniquely position it for success: the expertise of its members and continental reach. This Strategic Plan utilizes both to accomplish the action steps.

By mobilizing the membership of the organization to work on aspects of the plan, we extend our reach significantly. Each Folk Alliance member becomes our best advocate.

The four strategic directions identified that are developed into action steps for the next three to five years are:

Increase our Relevance and Value to Members Build our Organizational Infrastructure Change the Face of Folk Alliance Clarify and Promote both Folk Alliance and Folk Music and Dance

Folk Alliance Mission
The North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance exists to foster and promote traditional, contemporary, and multicultural folk music and dance, and related performing arts in North America. The Folk Alliance seeks to strengthen and advance organizational and individual initiatives in folk music and dance through education, networking, advocacy, and professional and field development.

Folk Alliance Goals
EDUCATION To increase understanding of the rich variety, artistic value, cultural and historical significance, and continuing relevance of folk music and dance among educators, media, and the general public.

NETWORKING To provide a bridge to and from folk music and dance organizations and needed resources, and to help those organizations link with their constituencies.

ADVOCACY To influence decision makers and resource providers on the national, state, provincial, and local levels, insuring the growth of folk music and dance.

FIELD DEVELOPMENT To support and encourage the development of new and existing grassroots folk music and dance organizations.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT To strengthen the effectiveness of folk music and dance organizations by providing professional development opportunities.

Introduction
Since 1989, Folk Alliance has been maturing as an organization to serve the folk music and dance community in North America. From the first formational meeting in Malibu in January of 1989 until the present, Folk Alliance has grown to play a significant role in the community of presenters, agents, artists, print and broadcast media, folklorists, record companies, and others involved in the presentation, promotion and preservation of folk music, dance and storytelling.

In the spring 2002, the Folk Alliance Board of Directors charged the Executive Director with developing a multi-year Strategic Plan for the organization. The plan was to be based on a survey of the members, and the process was to pull in expertise from both inside and outside the organization.

The survey of membership was conducted in October 2002 (Appendix A), and the results informed the Strategic Planning Committee (Appendix B), which met in Washington DC on November 7 and 8, 2002. The time frame for the committee’s work was a three- to five-year window, and the committee set about to answer the question “How can we best support our members over the next 3-5 years?” For purposes of the plan, “members” includes both present and potential future members.

The Committee identified four strategic directions within which to develop plans for the next 3-5 years. These directions are all equally important in the development of the Folk Alliance, and they each contribute, individually and in concert with each other, to take Folk Alliance forward to a strong future in support of the folk music and dance community of North America.

This draft plan is presented to the Board and membership of the Folk Alliance in January of 2003. It will be discussed at the Annual Membership Meeting of the Folk Alliance on Saturday, February 8, 2003 in Nashville, TN. Comments will be incorporated as appropriate into the draft, and the final version presented to the Board at their spring Board meeting, April 5, 2003.

The Strategic Planning Committee Phyllis Barney, Folk Alliance, Silver Spring, MD Bitsy Bidwell, Washington State Arts Commission, Olympia, WA Janet Braun, Folk Alliance, Silver Spring, MD Peggy Bulger, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, Washington, DC Richard Davis, Canada Council, Ottawa, ON Bernie Finkelstein, True North Records, Toronto, ON Kira Florita, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Nashville, TN Mark Moss, Sing Out!, Bethlehem, PA Tom Neff, Grassy Hill Productions, Lyme, CT Louise Neu, Folk Alliance, Silver Spring, MD Charlie Pilzer, Airshow Mastering and Azalea City Recordings, Takoma Park, MD Dan Sheehy, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington, DC John Stiernberg, Stiernberg Consulting, Sherman Oaks, CA John Thorpe, Network of Cultural Centers of Color, New York, NY Jamie Ward, Folk Alliance, Silver Spring, MD Clark Weissman, California Traditional Music Society, Tarzana, CA Elaine Weissman, California Traditional Music Society, Tarzana, CA Carol Young, Young/Hunter Management, Arlington, MA Tony Ziselberger, Folk Alliance, Silver Spring, MD Facilitator: Liz Allen Fey, Nashville, TN

The Vision
What we want to see in three to five years is a Folk Alliance that:

  • is rigorously dedicated to its mission
  • is financially stable with a healthy reserve fund equal to twelve months operating expenses
  • has a staff and infrastructure in place to support all its programs
  • is the leading voice for folk music and dance in North America, and at the forefront of an increased popularity of folk artistic expressions in the general public
  • has a larger core membership, with an increased number of organizational members
  • has strong institutional partnerships
  • produces a larger and increasingly useful international conference, complemented by regional events
  • has a membership and programming that reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of North America
  • provides improved and more widely utilized member services
  • has a healthy structure of regional organizations

Four Strategic Directions to Reach the Vision

We Will….
Increase our Relevance and Value to Members with improved member services and strong regional and international identity.

Build our Organizational Infrastructure and develop a strong educated leadership, a strong financial picture, and ongoing planning for a dynamic future.

Change the Face of Folk Alliance to incorporate the diverse ethnic fabric of North America into the organization.

Clarify and Promote both Folk Alliance and Folk Music and Dance so that both our organization and the field are stronger and have a positive identity.

Action Steps
As Clark Weissman said, “What unites us? What energizes us? What makes us dance? What makes the Conference draw us together?…. It’s the music, stupid.”

The tactics and action steps detailed below have been developed to take the Folk Alliance in the four strategic directions identified by the Strategic Planning Committee. Each area is of equal importance, and action items will be ongoing in each area simultaneously. Some action steps specifically reference other areas in the plan, but all are expected to work in concert to address the four strategic directions.

A lot of these action steps don’t talk much about music. That’s because they are about building the stage and laying down the dance floor.

What happens on that stage is up to all of us. It will be about exploring new music, meeting new colleagues and partners. It will be about entering new relationships and about reaching out to share the passion we hold for folk music and dance in North America. And to help Folk Alliance members do all this and more, we will undertake these initiatives:

Increasing Relevancy & Value to Members
Goal: We will have more extensive and widely used member services, institutional partnerships, and a stronger, more useful conference.

Folk Alliance was formed to serve the members of the folk music and dance community who present, perform, record, book, manage, write about, give radio airplay, and otherwise promote, support and foster the music and dance in North America. We have presented a successful conference, developed a non-profit group exemption program for fifty non-profit organizations, produced a music business directory, and taught classes and workshops around the continent. These action items increase the capacity to serve members by beginning new initiatives to benefit them.

Strategy: We will increase our relevancy and value to our members.

Tactic 1: Increase availability of and knowledge of Folk Alliance programs and services

Action 1. Redesign web site to more effectively feature member services. Responsibility: Member Services Director Date Completed: 4/1/2003

Action 2. Include in each newsletter a member services page, and feature a member service product in each issue Responsibility: Administrative Director Date Completed: 3/1/2003 and ongoing

Action 3. Notify members of research on new services and launch dates through newsletter and web site. Responsibility: Member Services Director Date Completed: 3/1/2003 and ongoing

Action 4. Make Music Biz directory a direct member benefit, rather than a fee-for-service product. Responsibility: Member Services Director Date Completed: 4/1/2003

Action 5. Develop a schedule for presenting a Folk Alliance sponsored workshop or program in each region of the US and Canada annually. Responsibility: Member Services Director Date Completed: 6/30/2003

Evaluation: Website and newsletter changes launched. Complete change of Music Business Directory to a member benefit. Six workshops and programs are scheduled for FY04 and FY05.

Tactic 2: Evaluate and improve the Annual International Conference

Action 1. Develop budget and RFP to hire an outside firm to conduct an audit and evaluation of the conference, aiming to improving profitability, attendee satisfaction and attendance. Responsibility: Conference Manager Date Completed: 6/15/2003

Action 2. Select firm, and implement evaluation of San Diego conference. Responsibility: Conference Manager Date Evaluation Completed: 2/25/2004

Evaluation: Outside evaluation of San Diego conference completed.

Tactic 3: Continue work on present and future Folk Alliance services and programs.

Item 1. Continue development of Folk in Schools program. Establish conference programming and other training opportunities on working in classrooms to Folk Alliance members. Develop website content on Folk in Schools. Responsibility: Ad hoc Folk in Schools Committee, Conference Manager, Member Services Director Date Completed: 4/1/2004

Action 2. Continue negotiations with performing rights organizations ASCAP, SESAC, BMI, and discussions with SOCAN on issues of importance to members. Complete venue association license agreements with each US based organization. Responsibility: Executive Director Date Completed: 2/25/2004

Action 3. Produce the world music conference Strictly Mundial in conjunction with the 17th Annual International Folk Alliance Conference in Montreal in 2005. Responsibility: Conference Manager Date Completed: 2/25/2005

Action 4. Implement a membership committee to explore and develop new member services and to serve as a conduit for member concerns. Responsibility: Member Services Director Date Completed: 6/30/2003

Action 5. Coordinate with Marketing Committee on all initiatives, and to target constituencies and potential members. Responsibility: Member Services Director Date Completed: ongoing

Action 6: Target under-served constituents (geographic, genre or professional) for service development. Annually identify one area to focus on and feature for knowledge and service development (reference Marketing Committee and Membership Records Director) Responsibility: Membership Services Director Date Completed: 4/1/2003

Evaluation:

  • Folk in Schools programming continues, elements are incorporated in the website.
  • Association agreement with PROs achieved.
  • Strictly Mundial presented in February 2005
  • Membership committee formed and active in identifying services to members

Building Organizational Infrastructure
Goal: We will improve financial stability, grow a healthy system of regional affiliates, nurture a dedicated and educated board of directors, and commit to the staff and infrastructure to support Folk Alliance programs.

The volunteer leadership of the Folk Alliance gives their time and efforts to serve the organization and its members. We need to provide them with the knowledge, expertise, and tools to help them do their jobs most effectively. Strong regional organizations will accomplish goals for their geographic area, but also serve as an important source of organizational leadership, expertise, and of ideas and mechanisms to strengthen the parent organization. Growth of member services depends on a financial and personnel structure being in place to support it.

Strategy: We will build our organizational infrastructure.

Tactic 1: Develop a dedicated and educated leadership.

Action 1. Form a committee of 2 board members, 2 former board members, 2 founding board members and one staff person to develop a Board Education Plan. Responsibility: Board President Date Committee Formed: 2/5/2003

Action 2. Assign each region a Board liaison and initiate a flow of information from the regional organizations to the Board Responsibility: Board President Date Completed: 4/5/2003

Evaluation: Board Education committee formed, and regional liaisons appointed.

Tactic 2: Strengthen and assist regional organizations

Action 1. Research and document status and activities of existing regions and affiliate organizations. Responsibility: Member Services Director Date Completed: 4/15/2003

Action 2. Produce a summit meeting of regional leaders and Board representatives on a semi-annual basis. Agenda for summit meeting to include development of regional-specific joint objectives, with task list for regions and Folk Alliance Responsibility: Member Services Director Date First Summit Completed: 4/15/2004

Action 3. Enhance regional identities through a presence at the conference, in the newsletter, and on our web site. Responsibility: Staff Date Completed: 3/1/2003 and ongoing

Action 4. Increase Folk Alliance dues by $10 per member to provide a seed fund for each region. Establish and publish guidelines for financial grants from Folk Alliance to regions Responsibility: Member Services Director Date Completed: 8/15/2003

Action 5. Presents workshops about the services and work of the Folk Alliance, professional issues, or training at each regional conference. Responsibility: Regional leaders and Member Services Director Date Commencing: 9/6/2003

Action 6. Support and provide leadership for the development of regional organizations in FARWest, Northwest, and Southeast. Responsibility: Board and Staff Date Completed: 6/30/2005

Evaluation: Regional summit conducted, and workshops are presented at each regional conference. Financial support is available for each regional organization. Each Folk Alliance region has an existing regional organization.

Tactic 3: Stabilize our Finances Part I – Earned income development

Action 1. Set financial objectives three years in advance. Responsibility: Executive Director and Treasurer Date Completed: 4/5/2003

Action 2. Forecast dues and fee increases for the next five years. Responsibility: Executive Director Date Completed: 4/1/2003

Action 3. Evaluate all current and new programs and services for cost/benefit and increased revenue potential. Responsibility: Executive Director Date Completed: 4/5/2003 and ongoing

Action 4. Reserve fund equals 12 months operating expenses. Responsibility: Executive Director Date Completed: 6/30/2005

Evaluation: Reserve is fully funded by the end of FY05.

Tactic 4: Stabilize our Finances Part II – Fundraising and Sponsorship

Action 1. Conduct development work on conjunction with existing Board Fundraising Committees Responsibility: Board President Date Completed: 2/5/2003

Action 2. Complete fundraising materials for use by the Board. Responsibility: Executive Director Date Completed: 4/5/2003

Action 3. Recruit and hire a Business Development Director. Responsibility: Executive Director Date Completed: 4/1/2004

Action 4. Complete training on Fundraising for Board of Directors. Responsibility: Executive Director and consultant Date Completed: 9/22/2003

Evaluation: Development Director is hired on schedule. Board of Directors increases its capacity for fundraising.

Tactic 5: Adopt a Strategic Planning Process

Action 1. Adopt the 3-year plan with concrete goals and objectives, update annually in three-year increments. Responsibility: Executive Director Date Completed: 4/5/2003 and ongoing

Action 2. Engage in mini-planning sessions on individual issues as needed. Responsibility: Executive Director Date Commencing: 6/30/2003 and ongoing

Action 3. Review progress and objectives monthly; report progress to general membership via newsletter and web site at specific intervals. Responsibility: Staff Date Completed: 10/1/2003

Action 4. Convene full planning committee every two years. Responsibility: Board of Directors Identify and Convene Planning Committee: 7/1/2004 Full planning process completed: 4/30/2005 Identify and Convene Planning Committee: 7/1/2006 Full planning process completed: 4/30/2007

Evaluation: Plan elements are continually updated and evaluated. Complete Strategic Planning process undertaken every two years.

Changing the Face of Folk Alliance

Goal: The membership and leadership reach and reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of North America.

In order to truly represent the extraordinary and varied fabric of the cultural landscape of North America, Folk Alliance must truly reflect the racial, ethnic and cultural diversity of the continent. This reflection must be seen in the international leadership of Board and staff, in the regional organizations, and in the membership.

Strategy: We will commit to diversity of race and ethnicity among membership and leadership, and actively pursue it.

Tactic 1: Create a leadership that is culturally and racially diverse.

Action 1. Charge nominating committee with identifying, recruiting and putting on the ballot people of color. Responsibility: Board of Directors Date completed: 4/5/2003 and ongoing

Action 2. Identify and catalog organizations of color representing staff competencies for recruitment of staff positions. Responsibility: Executive Director Date completed: 6/20/2003 and ongoing

Action 3. Utilize internships as a method to bring diverse individuals into the office of the Folk Alliance Responsibility: Executive Director Date completed: 6/20/2003 and ongoing

Action 4. Charge each board member to develop one relationship with an appropriate person reflecting the diversity strategy with the goal of bringing that person to each upcoming conference. Responsibility: Board President to make initial charge, each Board member to follow-up. Date completed: 2/25/2004 and each year following

Action 5. Complete diversity training for the staff and board of the Folk Alliance. Responsibility: Board President and Executive Director Date completed: 2/25/2005

Evaluation: By 2005, the staff and Board of the Folk Alliance has an increased representation from a diversity of ethnic groups.

Tactic 2: Use the assets and activities Folk Alliance already has in place to achieve diversity goals.

Action 1. Identify and catalogue ethnically diverse organizations that may have synergy with Folk Alliance (such as The Association of American Culture, Network of Cultural Centers of Color, Asian American Alliance, Atlatl, Black Arts Festival) with particular attention to organizations that may be headquartered in future conference locations. Responsibility: Member Service Director Date completed: 6/30/2003

Action 2. Continue the relationship with the NCCC, and together identify other networks and potential partners for future programs. Responsibility: Executive Director Date completed: 6/30/2003 and ongoing

Action 3. Utilize existing events (conference, regional conferences, other programs) as recruiting and service events for culturally diverse participants. Responsibility: Conference Manager and Member Services Director Date Completed: 9/1/2003 and ongoing

Action 4. Use the conference as one location of an ongoing diversity dialogue involving members, partners and guests. Responsibility: Conference Manager Date Completed: 2/25/2004 and ongoing

Evaluation: Conference and other programs are effectively utilized to broaden the diverse base of Folk Alliance membership. Membership will comprise 5% or more of people of color by 2005.

Tactic 3: Create an identity for Folk Alliance that embraces cultural diversity.

Action 1. Generate a photo/logo that expresses the diversity we can achieve (reference Marketing Committee) Responsibility: Executive Director Date completed: 10/30/2003

Evaluation: Logo in place and in use.

Strategy: Folk Alliance will implement plans to attract underrepresented diverse music, dance and storytelling to the organization and leadership.

Tactic 1: Use the assets and activities Folk Alliance already has in place, and new partnerships to develop the presence of diverse folk traditions in the organization.

Action 1. Use the annual conference as an entry point for practitioners of diverse folk music and dance traditions. Fund programming at each conference that speaks to underrepresented folk music and dance traditions. Responsibility: Conference Manager Date completed: 2/25/0004 and ongoing

Action 2. Utilize regional conferences as outreach and service events to invite diverse folk music and dance into the Folk Alliance Responsibility: Regional Leaders and Member Services Director Date Completed: 9/1/2004 and ongoing

Action 3. Form strategic partnerships and/or joint programs where possible with regional and state arts councils (i.e. LA County Arts Commission), private foundations (Fund for Folk Culture), national (Canada Council) and international (Arts Presenters) organizations to enhance the presence of and collaboration with the varied mosaic of folk music and dance traditions in North America. Responsibility: Executive Director, Regional Leaders, and Member Services Director Date Completed: 4/2/2003 and ongoing

Evaluation: Annual and regional conferences work contain programming and attendance from diverse cultural groups. Partnerships are in place with strategic cooperators on projects that build representation from underrepresented groups. Attendance at Folk Alliance Conference will reach 5% or more of people of color by 2005. Folk Alliance will have at least 8 diversity strategic partners in place by 2005.

Clarifying & Promoting Folk & the Folk Alliance
Goal: Folk Alliance is the leading voice for the field in North America, and there is an increase in the popularity of folk music.

Folk Alliance is one strong voice for those involved in the presentation, preservation and promotion of professional folk music and dance in North America. We are where folk meets the road, and as such have a unique opportunity and the continental reach to effectively educate the general public about folk music and dance, and to educate members of our field about the benefits of joining the Folk Alliance and becoming part of that powerful voice.

Strategy: We will promote both folk music and Folk Alliance.

Tactic 1: Create a working definition of “folk” for media use.

Action 1. Form a committee of 6-8 individuals to develop a working definition, including representatives from board, staff, strategic planning committee. Committee will represent core professionals including ethnomusicologists, folklorists, artists and agents. Responsibility: President, Board of Directors Committee Formed by: 3/10/2003

Action 2. Solicit input from membership and field for consideration through our newsletter, and the internet. Collect member submissions to inform the committee. Responsibility: Staff Date Completed: 5/12/2003

Action 3. Committee submits to the Board a clear, usable definition for adoption. Responsibility: Committee Date Completed: 6/30/2003

Evaluation: Definition accepted by the Folk Alliance Board and is available for use in marketing efforts.

Tactic 2: Increase the visibility of folk music and dance with the general public, correct the public’s misconceptions about folk music and dance, and broaden their understanding of the mosaic of the diverse folk music and dance traditions in order to grow the market for the Folk Alliance constituency.

Action 1. Identify and recruit volunteers including expertise from the professional fields of Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations to form the ad hoc Public Marketing Committee. Responsibility: FAPlan Clarifying and Promoting Subcommittee Date Completed: 6/30/2003

Action 2. Establish a marketing plan to seed grassroots campaign to encompass the diversity of folk music, dance and storytelling represented in North America. Create a plan/concept/slogan for marketing the performance folk arts to the public. Responsibility: Public Marketing Committee Date Completed: 6/30/2004

Action 3. Initiate a grassroots version of the marketing plan driven primarily by regional organizations, membership and word of mouth. Responsibility: Public Marketing Committee Date Completed: 9/30/2004

Action 4. Produce plan elements/products for a media campaign, fueled by the grassroots campaign. Responsibility: Public Marketing Committee Date Completed: 6/30/2005

Evaluation: Grassroots marketing plan and media campaign both launch and achieve recognition. 25 Articles in print media and 10 mention/features on broadcast media by 2005.

Tactic 3: Increase the visibility of the Folk Alliance folk and general music and dance professionals and business organizations, correct misconceptions about the Folk Alliance, broaden the understanding of the benefits and services provided by the Folk Alliance, and invite the broad spectrum of practitioners of folk music, dance and storytelling traditions into the organization.

Action 1. Create a Folk Alliance Marketing Committee comprised of staff and member volunteers with expertise in marketing and PR Responsibility: FAPlan Clarifying and Promoting Subcommittee Date Completed: 5/31/2003

Action 2. Clarify and identify the target constituencies for Folk Alliance membership. Responsibility: Executive Director and Folk Alliance Marketing Committee Date Completed: 7/31/2003

Action 3. Create a segmented marketing plan for the target members, including numbers, and due dates for objectives. (Reference results of Building Organizational Infrastructure) Responsibility: Folk Alliance Marketing Committee Date Completed: 10/31/2003

Evaluation: Folk Alliance Marketing Plan initiated, and results in increased name recognition (determined by independent survey), and a doubled membership for the Folk Alliance.