In early 2016, arts organisations around Victoria will be working on their submissions to the 2016 Creative Victoria Organisation Investment Program. This is the first in a series of posts in which Regional Arts Victoria will be sharing some of the work we’ve done to prepare us for our own submission, published in the hope that it will be of use to others in the sector.
When you’re working on a key governance document such as your Strategic Plan, two critical things to place front and centre are the Mission and Values of your organisation.
There are some varying definitions, interpretations and practical applications of both these terms across the arts sector. You can type them into your favourite search engine to find out more about the theory behind them (with some 50,000,000 results retrieved when we tried it), and many organisations will publish them on their websites (Regional Arts Victoria included).
Making things even more interesting, some organisations will add a Vision Statement to their suite of governance tools (adding another 25,000,000 or so results to your search engine retrievals). If you haven’t encountered these tools before, it can be a bit daunting to find a guide that is useful for you and your organisation.
In his 2014 Book of the Board: Effective Governance for Non-Profit Organisations, David Fishel provides some guidance on the Mission Statement, Vision Statement, and Values, as well as some useful insights into how to develop and monitor the progress of each collaboratively. This book is worth reading in full, and we won’t attempt to communicate all of it through this humble blog post.
Instead, in this blog series we present Regional Arts Victoria’s Mission, Vision and Values and a commentary explaining what we are trying to achieve with each, and how they were created.
Regional Arts Victoria inspires art across the state.
A Mission Statement is something that summarises why we exist as an organisation. If designed well, it should remain unchanged indefinitely.
Regional Arts Victoria’s Board and Staff discussed the Mission of the organisation in the early planning stages of the current Strategic Plan (with a timeline of 2014-18). For Regional Arts Victoria, an organisation with a long history and servicing a range of stakeholders, creating a statement that captured our diverse range of activities required all of us to ask ‘why’ a number of times to get to what united all our activities (e.g. why do we coordinate tours? Why do we manage funding programs? Why do we deliver state-wide projects?). This ultimately led to agreement in the common function of all our work was that it sought to inspire art across Victoria.
Your Mission should be able to capture the breadth of what you do, but should also help you determine what you don’t. You might have heard of the term ‘mission creep’ before; being clear on your Mission will help you ensure you aren’t endlessly drawn into new activities that detract from the key thing you’re trying to achieve as an organisation.
The next post in this series discusses Regional Arts Victoria’s Vision.
We don’t pretend to be the sole authorities on arts organisation governance. This post should help start discussions, not end them. Disagree with what we’ve said? Want to add some wisdom of your own? Great! Please post your contributions in the comments section below.