This fall we embarked on a new five-year plan following a series of meetings where board members, volunteers, donors, community representatives, and staff presented their visions of what the FIA would, could, and should look and be like in 2021. Since then, staff and board members have held meetings to prioritize strategies, create action steps, and set deadlines in pursuit of our new goals and objectives. The thrust of the plan is to engage new audiences while meeting—and hopefully exceeding—the expectations of those we have already developed relationships with.
By design, our plan will serve as a roadmap to follow while developing and implementing new action steps over the next five years. The plan is complex and requires that we track our successes to measure the progress we’ve made toward accomplishing our goals. To stay on track, we will have to evaluate our progress on what can be measured: attendance figures, “likes” on Facebook, dollars given by donors, outreach statistics, the number of artworks on view, and so on. We will also collect data to determine why people are coming here, how they heard about us, and where they are from. Numbers and data are also useful in applying for and reporting on grants, attracting donors and forming budgets, and are essential when communicating to others that we need and are properly using the resources that we rely on.
Although statistics are an important tool for measuring our progress, we cannot adequately capture the intellectual or emotional impact that our visitors experience. Even with evaluation forms, which many museums (including ours) use, to ask people about their visit, what they really experience is often ineffable and cannot be explained by a simple comment card.
It is central to our mission to create life-changing moments by presenting the achievements of some of the world’s greatest artists. This is what art does best—it creates a deeply personal experience that stimulates the imagination and nourishes the soul. We know the FIA’s galleries and studios provide an environment where these moments can happen and often receive heart-warming letters to that effect. We also hear the anecdotes—a 1st grader remembers their visit to the Art School studio and returns 30 years later with that memory. These experiences are not unique to the FIA. Art attracts people from different backgrounds for a variety of reasons all over the world. Unfortunately, there is no formula to follow, no rubric to repeat, that we can put in the plan to guarantee that every visitor has this “moment” every single time. What we can do is work to meet measurably high standards while pursuing goals to create that environment and not forget the real reason we are here: people, not numbers.
Please visit soon and bring a friend. That special moment awaits you.