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  • Melinda Steffy

CASE STUDY: Fleisher Art Memorial

SECTOR: Arts & Culture

TIMEFRAME: 2021-2022

SERVICES: Facilitation, Workshops, Program Evaluation


BACKGROUND:

In 2021, the dual impacts of the pandemic and an unexpected leadership transition left the staff and board of Fleisher Art Memorial in a state of uncertainty. The organization, known for financially accessible arts education, exhibitions of local artists, and culturally relevant community programming, needed to collectively take a deep breath so they could move forward with intentionality.


At the same time, they were pushing forward with a major programming initiative, and sought to understand the impacts of that program on their organization and the broader community.


PROCESS 1: CRISIS WORKSHOPS

We first facilitated a series of staff workshops to help the team process the many recent changes and challenges. We created space for staff to safely express their concerns, and guided them in thinking about how to make realistic changes in the workplace that would allow for better self-care and community-care. We also led strategy workshops with the board to help them deepen their understanding of the current landscape and develop a shared vision for the hiring process. We met regularly with the interim ED to provide support and advice through the transition period. At the end, we led a culminating workshop with staff and board together to share our learnings and help them envision next steps forward.


PROCESS 2: PROGRAM EVALUATION

As the team settled into their new internal circumstances, Fleisher was also rolling out 360 Culture Lab, a Pew-funded initiative designed to celebrate the cultural heritage of immigrant communities in South Philadelphia, in particular the Indonesian and Venezuelan communities. Through a year-long series of classes, community events, performances, exhibitions, and more, Fleisher provided partner organizations with financial support, space, human capacity, and expertise, which allowed volunteer-led grassroots organizations to create at a capacity not otherwise possible.


Recognizing that the project was significantly impacted by the pandemic and the leadership transition, Fleisher engaged Concentric Strategy to conduct an evaluation that would help the organization understand the benefits and challenges, and identify best practices for future projects.


We spoke with members from the partner organizations as well as Fleisher staff to understand the behind-the-scenes workings, and we attended events to gain first-hand perspective. Our findings report synthesizes those conversations into themes around creative output, COVID impacts, staff transitions, external communications, relationship-building, cultural representation, and steps for the future.


The report offers practical recommendations for how Fleisher may continue to strengthen their community partnerships and build deep, authentic relationships within their neighborhood.


Dancers in Indonesian dress perform in a beautiful sanctuary space with stained glass and string lights.
A dance performance by Modero & Co at Fleisher Art Memorial




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