Advancing the conversation
Strategic planning and the American Craft Council
The American Craft Council is hiring a new executive director and, the organization also needs to update its current strategic plan. Therefore, dialogue with an examination of the broader craft community is needed.
The purpose of this post and my last is to advance the critical conversations on the needs of the craft community in relationship to the need to enhance the critical discourse.
Primarily, the craft community needs to understand what the members of the community all have in common-- and then, a new narrative will develop from this new shared understanding. At the same time, this new shared understanding should have the ability to connect to the broader discourses in art and design.
Therefore, the leadership should work towards updating the definition of what craft is to align with the broader diversity of values of the community while also, leaving space for other types of practitioners to enter into and participate in the craft community.
This requires the administration to fully understand all of the values at work beneath the surface and, this requires looking beneath the surface to examine these core values in relationship to the broader values of the society-- this requires examining and understanding the deeply held and divergent beliefs, perceptions, attitudes, and assumptions of the craft community.
These values do not always align among all community members. The Council needs to be accountable to the craft community on the diversity of their values, and, to do that, the Council needs a clear understanding of what these divergent values are.
There is a need to distinguish craft advocacy from craft activism.
Craft advocacy strives to influence and persuade; craft activism aims to transform. Craft advocacy is a byproduct of a marketing and public relations campaign, whereas craft activism directly results from a broader progressive movement.
Craft advocacy is neutral; craft activism is politically progressive, and, not all members of the craft community are politically progressive; this is an important consideration that requires the community to become more reflexive.
Craft advocacy helps the Council to acquire new members and, it should strive to define and advance the broader meanings that craft carries in society. To this end, the Council's membership will need to be expanded in traditional communities, while the Council also examines how it can reach new audiences.
The effort to build membership should be sensitive as not to alienate the audiences that it currently has while at the same time not closing the definitions to members from outside of the community. In this sense, it is essential to consider attitudes, beliefs, and values on technology and its presumptive relationship to the handmade object.
The outreach that is needed can use technology to harness social and online media. This effort will evolve from a new, persuasive marketing and public relations strategy.
However, as we examine the current state of social media use by the American Craft Council, it is clear that we need to deeply explore emerging trends and understand how our community can better harness that power.
The messaging of a new strategic plan should align with the core values of the entire craft community.
To draft a new strategic plan, the American Craft Council needs to work very hard to understand the complexity of the attitudes, beliefs, and values within an emergent, not yet defined, understanding of "craft" in the 21st Century.
A deeper examination of this topic is available in this 20-minute video presentation: