When starting with the conceptualization of a cultural project, the first thing we must consider is to be clear about what we want to do and why we do it. What needs and opportunities do we solve and create? Know who we are, with what or who we are going to work with – our team – what are their characteristics, under what (political, social, economic) reality we see our actions, what we want to intervene, change, what are products and services we offer, etc, etc. The set of questions can be endless and vary according to the project that we are going to develop and implement. As part of the management work, it is frequent to find ourselves with multiple challenges that force us to modify or look for new instruments and support tools in order to achieve the objectives and goals set both in the projects and in our daily work.
The creation and management of a cultural center, leads us to analyzing the space in the most abstract and universal way possible in order to go little by specifying its characteristics and functions according to the objectives and involve the use of various resources to turn them into cultural products and services that transcend their social involvement and projected results. Within this approach and like any creative process, it should be seen as an investment, where the transformation of the inputs must be objective and measurable over time. To achieve this, it is necessary to position yourself from a broader view to provide the project with that function as a tool where the common goal is not only the creation of cultural products and services, but also their impact on the territory and the community. Here the concept of strategic planning as an important part of this development. Being clear about who will be responsible, an institution or group, for executing the project or portfolio to achieve the efficiency of the instruments, is vital for the success of this cultural center that goes beyond the generation of resources.
How can we define the term ‘Cultural center’?
A cultural center is a space created with the intention of serving as a means for the dissemination of different artistic, philosophical, educational, cultural, etc. expressions. Open to the community with the aim of representing and promoting artistic-cultural values and interests within the territory of a community. It is multidisciplinary in nature and it develops cultural services and creation, training and dissemination activities in different areas of culture, as well as support for cultural organizations. It has basic spaces for the delivery of cultural services, rooms for workshops, exhibition rooms, cultural heritage exhibitions, libraries, archives, meeting rooms, and administration offices, warehouses, bathrooms, restroom and wardrobe. It generates demand from creators for arts.
A cultural center is developed through a Cultural Management Plan that includes a up to date structure, with qualified personnel – cultural managers, which gives cultural and economic sustainability to the achievement of its purpose. These spaces can be financed with public or private funds and usually offer teaching in different arts to get mission-related income. A cultural center can also serve as a medium in which a certain thinker/creator expresses his views or an artist exhibits his art. In general, these places are intended to make culture accessible to a wide audience, especially in those variants of it that are less well known or not very popular. Cultural centers are also centers of debate for different problems that have to do with the community.
What we are driving at is that a cultural center is a meeting place, integration and encounter of the community. A means for the loyalty of audiences and generation of new audiences, through the different dissemination and cultural management actions that it encompasses. Therefore, it is important to consider that:
- The cultural management model must be born from the cultural and artistic needs and demands of the community
- It must have inclusive and itinerant spaces that allow the full enjoyment of the entire community in its cultural and artistic development
- An infrastructure that encourages community participation and diversity of expressions through a cultural offer in accordance with local cultural policies and the needs of the community
- Spaces that serve as enhancers for the development of new languages and the presence of all the arts
- To be a platform for the training, creation and dissemination of the artistic-cultural work of the area
- A vehicle of identity reference of a community
- To become a landmark and support of the urban articulation
- To form a space for social integration and the structuring of the local community
All institutions, organizations and in this case cultural centers should design a route to follow, a guide that allows them to meet their objectives and goals, this is called planning. The generation of a work or management plan is essential for the good performance of these spaces, these plans can be short, medium or long term, this will depend on the activities that you want to develop in the time and cost necessary to achieve it. , the planning can include projects or portfolios of projects that are ordered within the strategic actions to define them and make them visible within the plan.
Planning is defined as the rational and systematic process of foreseeing, organizing and using resources to achieve objectives and goals in a predetermined time and space, in a controlled and conscious way.
Strategy is the process that specifies a series of steps or concepts aimed at achieving a common objective. We can also understand it as the art of designing the way to achieve goals through ordered actions that shape the work plan.
Taking into consideration the above concepts, we can say that strategic planning is a management tool that allows establishing the task and the path that organizations must travel to achieve the planned goals, taking into account the changes and demands imposed by their environment. In this sense, it is a fundamental tool for decision-making within any organization. Thus, strategic planning is an exercise in the formulation and establishment of objectives and, especially, of the action plans that will lead to achieving these objectives.
According to ‘Execution Premium’ by Roberto Kaplan and David Norton, we can identify the stages of the Strategic Planning process such as:
- Creating the strategy
- Planning the strategy
- Aligning the organization with the strategy
- Planning the operation of the organization
- Controlling and learning from the operation
- Testing and adapting the strategy
There are also 5 essential phases in planning process:
1. Ideological phase
Determination of the institutional role, expressed in the elements that make up the backbone of what the cultural center will be: its lines of work, its audience, the values it represents, the mission, the vision, the internal organization chart, the forms of financing, antecedents and justifications, the nature and reason of being of the institution, general objective, territorial location and those responsible for the execution. This section of the plan describes the fundamental convictions of the directors, officers and servants of the organization.
2. Analytical phase
In this phase we will carry out a diagnosis or SWOT analysis of the internal and external reality in order to be clear about the key points that must be reinforced, identify problems and opportunities that affect the center and those needs that must be prioritized in the plan . The scope of this diagnosis can be expressed from a general environment, understanding global trends in the sector or a more specific environment referring to particular situations of the population or specific actors. For its part, the analysis of the internal operating environment includes a diagnosis of the sector or subsector regulatory framework and the technical and operational capacity of the organization.
3. Program phase
In this section we will define the general and specific objectives of the plan. It should be noted that the general objective proposed in phase A corresponds to the cultural center from its existential reason and that the general objectives developed here have to do with the development of the plan as a management tool. The development then, of the general and specific objectives will be based on the result of the diagnosis carried out in phase B, where the critical factors that affect the solution of the central macro problems and the global opportunities of the organization and its environment are identified. .
4. Operational phase
Determination of strategies, policies and / or courses of action based on the strengths of the organization and that, at the same time, neutralize its weaknesses, in order to take advantage of opportunities and counteract threats. The courses of action can be organized, following the budget nomenclature, into programs, projects and activities.
5. Evaluation phase
Design of the monitoring and evaluation system of the plan, which includes the selection of performance indicators and the specification of the values to be achieved for each indicator, as well as the estimation of the essential financial resources. Indicators play a key role in evaluating compliance with the plan, which is why it is considered an indispensable element in the implementation of the plan. We will develop this topic in the following installments of this special.
Before entering into the definition of this concept, it is important to understand that strategic planning or in this case the cultural management plan, is not a tool used only by institutions or organizations, since all cultural management work requires a planning process and achievement of objectives from any space and / or agent, so this is also the responsibility of individual managers, community groups and all those cultural actors in general. Keeping this aspect clear, we are going to understand the Cultural Management Plan as a document that integrates an ordered set of objectives, programs, projects and activities, defined by an institution or cultural agent to carry out cultural objectives and deliver various services in a territory determined, according to internal and / or local policies. It is a basic tool that will guide the organization of resources for a certain time, to achieve the defined purposes, based on a diagnosis, the projection of the objectives set and an organizational and financial model that guarantees the provision of various cultural services (programme = offer).
A complete strategic plan guides each of the areas in the direction that the organization wishes to follow and allows it to develop objectives, strategies and programs appropriate to the goals. In this sense, it is essential that the institution that has defined a cultural management plan carries out an analysis of its strengths and limitations, this is what we call “organizational analysis”, which allows knowing and keeping an eye on internal conditions to assess the main strengths and weaknesses of the organization. The former constitute the driving forces of the organization and facilitate the achievement of objectives, while the latter are the limitations and restrictive forces that hinder or prevent the achievement of such objectives.
BASIC PRINCIPLES TO BUILD A CULTURAL MANAGEMENT MODEL
- Conception of its contents from the territorial environment (cultural, artistic, social, urban, political, economic characteristics of the direct and indirect territory that the plan addresses). The document is born from the understanding of the identity and local characteristics.
- Integration of the cultural artistic community and citizens in the definition and development of the cultural center with methodologies known as citizen participation as a relevant element for the development of the plan.
- Coherence of the definitions of the plan with the existing political-technical framework (municipal, regional, national). Interrelation with the Regional Development Strategy, regional and national Cultural Policies and other management instruments, such as the Community Development Plan (Pladeco), cultural consumption surveys, etc.
- Project the sustainability and programmatic and economic sustainability of the cultural center. Management as a key to developing the Cultural Policy of the Cultural Center, seeking external support and strengthening the internal.
- Strengthen the human and material capacities of the commune.
- Develop an integrated territorial view of the cultural services to be delivered, promoting a community, provincial, regional and national network for artistic and cultural dissemination.
- Definition of the necessary infrastructure, defining the type of spaces required, the location, the accesses and their functionality, among others.