Strategic Planning for an Art Center

The Wayne Center for the Arts has a mission of enriching lives and strengthening communities through art. There are numerous ways that WCA programs are benefiting the quality of life for communities in Wayne County. WCA is uniquely situated in historic downtown Wooster, meaning it attracts visitors that also spend money on locally owned retail and restaurants. The center benefits youth through education programs, stimulating curiosity and teaching real skills. They offer numerous programs for adults – including retirees – which builds community, benefits mental health, and provides a source of joy.

The Problem

The Wayne Center for the Arts was facing many changes in 2022. Similar to other nonprofits offering events, the WCA’s community events had decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, they recently had a large change in leadership, hiring a new executive director. When they hired Sustainable Economies Consulting to facilitate their strategic planning process, the Board of Directors pointed to a good problem they were facing – too many opportunities to choose from. While having many opportunities can be positive, it also made messaging about the Center’s programs more difficult.

Wayne Center For The Arts

Wayne Center For The Arts

The Solution

The solution was to engage community partners and residents in a stakeholder-informed strategic planning process. Sustainable Economies Consulting designed a process that would reflect the needs of the community, the priorities of the WCA staff and Board, and result in both a long-term vision and clear short-term actions and indicators of success.

In fall 2022, six engagement sessions took place, including 65 participants that represented community members and leaders, elected officials, partner organizations, and WCA staff.  The word cloud below shows the most frequent words mentioned in the engagement sessions:

Word cloud

The Results

The 2023-2026 WCA Strategic Plan was finalized in January 2023: Final WCA Strategic Plan Report 2023.pdf

In the first year of plan implementation, WCA successes include:

  • Increased grant funding: The 4 pillars in the strategic plan are included along with the WCA mission statement whenever they apply for grant funding. Grant funding increased by 156% due to a number of factors, one of which is a clear strategic plan.
  • Increase funding from events: Utilized the 4 pillars to create an annual video which was shown at the WCA annual gala before the live auction.  The auction netted a record amount of earnings. This was a 47% increase from the previous year and while it was due to a number of factors, the messaging from the strategic plan was a key factor.
  • Increased funding from a wider diversity of donors: This included garnering more support from corporate entities and local businesses.
  • Improved communication: Based upon the 4 pillars, messaging has become much clearer and more succinct with all audiences.

“Several grants that we applied for ask specifically how our project fits into our wider strategic plan, and having the plan in place was a feather in our cap. One example is the grant we received from the Ohio Arts Council for ‘innovative and new programming.’ The review panel highlighted the plan as a positive aspect of the project and indicated that it was a strong proposal because of the timing and preparation,” shared a WCA staff member.


Strategic Planning For An Art Center

Wayne County, Ohio

2022 - 2023

Wayne Center for the Arts

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