With a population of just over 110,000, Abilene, Texas is a small city, statistically speaking. But it has out-size pride in its citizens' self-reliant, can do spirit and small-town, friendly demeanor — the kind of spirit and demeanor that are all too easily lost if resources aren't marshaled toward their stewardship.
In the early 90's, Abilene's Cultural Affairs Council awakened to that fact and wisely decided some planning was in order, planning that would preserve and perpetuate what the arts, in particular, had been adding to the City's good spirits. The Council engaged consultants from WolfBrown to look at its past successes in programming as a way of gaining a focus and a vision — a plan — for the future.
Consensus is the critical element in community cultural planning, particularly where resources of time and money are limited, as in Abilene. The consultants therefore employed their trademark process of engaging all segments of the community in assessing arts programs that both the Council itself and other organizations had sponsored. Team members interviewed scores of people about the value of the Council's multicultural and children's activities, about the community's cultural facilities and their past and ideal use, and not least, about the Council's image, position, and public relations acumen within the community.
From the information they gathered in this comprehensive review process, the WolfBrown team drew up recommendations for new programs and activities, as defined by the community itself. Then they drafted new staffing and budget plans for the agency that would put it in position to deliver on those plans. As a result of the assessment and planning the team was able to offer Abilene, its citizens were in their turn able to reveal their spirit and what they envision to keep it alive.
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