September 22, 2020

The Learning & Innovation Committee Puts Community First

“How do you get the ideas for your programs?”

This question comes up a lot when talking to patrons, supporters, and even other Scottsdale Arts staff members. While some ideas are born from the creative minds of the Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation team, more often than not, these program ideas come from the creative “hive mind” of our community. 

Through support from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Memory Lounge was the result of focus groups, surveys, and research that led to a community-designed program for adults living with dementia-related illnesses and their care partners. Photo: Betty Hum Photography.

We take community engagement seriously. It is a mindset with which we approach programming. It means we see those who participate in our programs as contributors, not just passive attendees. We read and tally every evaluation and continually adjust programs to meet the needs of our audience. Every program is designed with the end user in mind, whether that is a child attending a field trip or an adult taking a workshop. From timing to outcomes, each facet of a program is considered to remove as many barriers as possible to access, and, as a result, every program has measurable and impactful results. 

Ninety-nine percent of teachers who participate in Kennedy Center professional learning workshops feel more confident in their teaching. These workshops are designed to meet specific school needs through a strong partnership with Scottsdale and Paradise Valley school administration. Photo: Betty Hum Photography.

Our most valued asset is the membership of our Learning & Innovation Committee. Comprising creatives that represent the audiences we serve, this group is our front line of advice on engagement, community needs, and advocacy when designing Learning & Innovation programming. Members come from schools, community organizations, post-secondary institutions, volunteer groups, and the Scottsdale Arts Board of Trustees. Their experience, knowledge, and professional network have opened doors, contributed greatly to the success of our programs, and pushed us in ways we would have never discovered on our own.  

The purpose of this committee is threefold: 

  • Programmatic: Review, monitor, or assess specific programs. Provide expertise, and be an unbiased sounding board for brainstorming, creating new ventures, or identifying institutional strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats.  
  • Resource development: Work collaboratively to identify ways to support initiatives through partnerships, grants, and other resources. Provide a means for involving people who are willing to give critical assistance but have limited time.  
  • Advocacy: Serve as ambassadors for the organization to the community. Gather input from or serve as a liaison for key constituencies. 
The Learning & Innovation Committee meets (remotely) monthly and tackles topics ranging from advocacy to community needs. Photo: Scottsdale Arts.

The 2020–2021 Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation Committee roster includes:

This month, we kicked off our first meeting by welcoming two new additions to the group from Phoenix College and Detour Company Theatre. We know this year will be unlike any before it, but with this group of advocates and advisors behind the Learning & Innovation team, we know we will get through it together as a community.

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