Organizational Retreat in Memphis

February 28, 2023

In early February, Guild staff and board members traveled from around the country to Memphis for a five-day organizational retreat. As we gathered in Memphis, we grounded ourselves in place—on land historically stewarded by the Chickasaw and Quapaw Nations, in a city with a rich legacy of arts, culture, and civil rights movement history; as well as in time—during Black History Month, and in a moment when the community’s grief following the police murder of Tyre Nichols is still fresh.

Marcellous Lovelace's mural entitled I Am A Man. It depicts a crowd of people with brown skin, wearing colorful clothing and holding up signs that say "I Am A Man", over a turquoise colored background.

I Am A Man mural by Marcellous Lovelace

Our organizational retreat included board meetings, a full-day session with our strategic planning consultants, team building, and staff planning sessions. We discussed the community arts education field and the Guild's place in it, turning our 2023 goals into action plans, as well as board and staff roles & responsibilities.

We also learned about each of our leadership styles and personality types, and how these all fit together to form our organization. Becoming more aware of gives us language to discuss the differences in our working styles, and allows us to better determine how to work with each other and leverage each of our strengths.

Our strategic planning consultants, Heather Heslup and Allegra Brown, led us in a Practical Visioning session in which we discussed what the Guild envisions achieving during the next 3–5 years. The next step for staff and board in our strategic planning process will be to examine our current reality, so that we can figure out how to bridge the gap from here to our vision. Heather and Allegra will also be conducting focus groups with members and stakeholders, as well as a survey open to all in the community arts education field—keep an eye out for more info about how you can contribute feedback towards our strategic planning process.

The retreat concluded with staff collectively mapping out the remainder of the year, taking a realistic look at our capacity, and building new internal systems for project management (including all using the same project management software for the first time! We are thrilled about this). We're excited to be in this next phase of the Portal, where together we are actively shaping the future of the Guild and how we support you!

Thank you to New Ballet Ensemble & School and Guild trustee Katie Smythe for all your local support, and to the Universal Life Building, Halloran Education CenterOrange Mound Arts Council, and Memphis Music Initiative for hosting us in your spaces.

Published: February 28, 2023