Julie Wake with Brittney Nichols and Katie Stewart Dorfman of Strategy Matters.

Evolving a 35-Year-Old Organization

Julie Wake with Brittney Nichols and Katie Stewart Dorfman of Strategy Matters.
AFCC Executive Director Julie Wake (from left) with Brittney Nichols and Katie Stewart Dorfman of Strategy Matters.


Editorial by Julie Wake

At the beginning of 2020, the Arts Foundation was preparing to embark on a strategic planning process. Our team had great optimism as we prepared to build a roadmap for the future. And then Covid hit.

We shelved the process, focusing on addressing the immediate needs of the sector. We launched an emergency relief fund for artists who lost jobs and arts organizations which lost revenue due to the pandemic. We held a 3-day virtual festival, Home Is Where the Art Is, to raise seed money for the fund, bringing in local, regional, and national artists, including musician G. Love, filmmaker and actress Amy Jo Johnson, and author Lauren Wolk.

It was an uncertain, scary, and hectic time – wondering when pandemic restrictions would end; what in-person programming would look like when the arts eventually reopened; and what the lasting impacts would be to a sector that has historically been underfunded. Three years later, the Arts Foundation is finally having a chance to pause, and reflect on our 35-year-old history – including our ability to adapt and respond to a global pandemic – and to strategically look forward.

In January, we hired a Boston-based consultant, Strategy Matters. With their help, we are refining our mission, our vision, and identifying actionable goals that will inform our work and allow us to best serve the region’s arts sector – the arts organizations, artists, and individuals contributing to the creative economy. We are reevaluating our values to inform future decisions so we can evolve existing programs and create new ones, identify opportunities to grow, and find ways to welcome more in our community.

While strategic planning can be a painful process, this one has been inspiring.

In our initial meetings, one word continuously came up in describing the Arts Foundation — agility. I’m grateful to work for an organization with colleagues and a Board of Directors who believe in responding quickly and thoughtfully to what is happening in the world around us. We pride ourselves on being adaptable in service to meeting the needs of our sector and our community.

As we set the building blocks for our future aspirations, I hope you will join us on this journey in embracing and celebrating the arts and artists as an essential part of our lives and communities.

You can start by connecting with culture on Cape Cod — see live music, buy locally-made art, and share your experiences online and with your network of friends, family, and colleagues. Consider becoming an AFCC Patron which provides exclusive behind-the-scenes arts experiences with like-minded individuals in our region. Connect with local artists and arts supporters at our monthly Creative Exchange meetups. Refer a friend to our AFCC Access program which gives underserved children the opportunity to participate in year-round extracurricular arts activities. And invest in our grant program to meet the growing needs of the sector.

This process has reminded me – and all of us at the Arts Foundation – that collectively, we all share a role in strengthening the arts on Cape Cod.