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  • Melinda Steffy

CASE STUDY: Delaware Shakespeare

SECTOR: Arts & Culture

TIMEFRAME: 2022

SERVICES: Strategic Planning


BACKGROUND:

Concentric Strategy facilitated a strategic planning process for a 20-year-old theater company in the midst of transformation: from Summer Festival to Community Tour, from earned revenue to contributed, from Eurocentric traditions to antiracist reinvention, from a 20-year “start-up” mode to a more mature organizational life stage. Delaware Shakespeare (Del Shakes) had been thinking differently about venues, audiences, and even Shakespeare himself.


Originally an outdoor summer Shakespeare festival, Del Shakes had expanded in recent years to develop year-round community-based programming. While they still presented plays in the park every summer, they now also brought theater to schools, community centers, human services organizations, detention facilities, and other less-typical venues for the arts. Their audiences for these performances were primarily lower-income BIPOC community members, in contrast to the wealthier, whiter audiences of their summer festival. They had already engaged in an in-depth antiracism process that led them to reimagine their artistic leadership model and develop equity-focused practices and policies.


They sought a strategic planning process that would help them embed diversity, equity, and inclusion in deeper ways through all aspects of their organizational life.


PROCESS:

Through the strategic planning process, we defined a shared sense of direction that will allow Del Shakes to move forward with clarity and intention. We spoke with artists, audiences, volunteers, donors, community partners, board, and staff to better understand their organizational identity and the landscape in which they work.


At a full-day retreat, board and staff identified a Big Question, or “North Star,” to guide their next steps: How do we nurture an abundant cultural ecosystem and reduce barriers to create meaningful engagement with Shakespeare-inspired theatre?


We then worked with a committee of staff, board, and artists to develop five strategic priorities related to audiences, artists, leadership and staff, financial health, and their public profile. For each priority, we created a statement of intention and outlined tactics designed to build momentum toward answering the Big Question. The plan includes a Strategy Screen and Opportunity Matrix to help the team assess how well new opportunities or solutions resonate with their overall strategic direction.


The new strategic plan helps Del Shakes respond to ongoing considerations: How do we continue to embed antiracism and radical inclusion across all aspects of our work? How do we deepen relationships and show up authentically in our community? How do we truly celebrate our shared humanity through — and beyond — the works of Shakespeare?


Yellow star that says NEW IDEA, leading to a series of boxes: Big Question leads to Strategy Screen leads to 5 Priorities leads to Tactics and Implementation Plan
Strategic planning flow chart

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