With a strong mission and vision already guiding the Arts Council, it was time to develop a robust and deep-rooted set of guiding principles and beliefs. Since February, the board and staff have been molding and shaping a set of values that will help guide the perspective of our organization as well as its actions. We began by surveying our membership, diving deep in our conversations with board and staff, and writing down a set of commonly-held “truths” that define our culture and beliefs. At our September board meeting, the following statements were unanimously approved.
- We believe in both the intrinsic and the instrumental value of the arts. We believe that the arts foster civic engagement, stimulate economic activity and increase cultural empathy and this plays a crucial role in sustaining thriving communities.
- We believe that our region, our communities and our neighborhoods can be strengthened and transformed by working collaboratively and creatively.
- We believe that the arts articulate, preserve and perpetuate our shared histories and cultures.
- We believe in art for all - everyone deserves equal access to a full, vibrant creative life, which is essential to a healthy and democratic society.
Our way of working is equally important as what we do. If we are to be effective, we must project and advocate for these guiding principles in all we undertake.We are Good StewardsWe have been entrusted to fulfill the legacy that was born in 1965 to establish an active and credible Lansing region arts council. We provide transparency, openness and responsiveness in all public matters and adhere to the highest professional standards of conduct and ethics.
We are InclusiveWe value diversity in all of its many forms just as we honor the fundamental value and dignity of all individuals. We create and maintain an environment that respects diverse traditions, heritages and experiences, valuing and recognizing the equal rights of all human beings. We are committed to ensuring that all individuals who apply to, work with or otherwise interact with us are treated with fairness and respect and accorded equal opportunity.
We are Innovative and Creative Leaders We embrace an internal culture that values innovation and cooperation, utilizes talent and skills and provides opportunities for growth and learning. We value the wealth of creative ideas that are generated from our staff, board, members and the region. We are organizational and community leaders, who seek life-long learning opportunities and embrace new ideas. We keep our hand on the societal pulse and are present-moment as well as watchful big-picture thinkers who counsel, advise, interpret and identify changes and challenges in arts trends.
We Promote Conversation and Dialog We expect and embrace critical discourse and debate from all perspectives, examining different opinions, values and beliefs and encouraging all to step out of their comfort zones toward open self-expression and empowerment. We mold and shape ideas, building consensus to create pathways of understanding and respect.
We Connect the Dots We value the concepts of cross-sector collaborations – reaching into and across all sectors – business, municipal, social service, education, arts and cultural – to create art at every opportunity. We focus on building bridges that help create impact in our communities through the lens of the arts. We encourage artful partnerships that shape a more connected and self-reflective community.
We are Change Agents We value calculated risk-taking and progressive thinking to create innovative solutions in our daily work and in the revitalization of our region through the arts, testing our limits and challenging ourselves. We are not afraid of the status quo in search of better, smarter or faster solutions. We are agile, constantly soliciting stakeholder feedback, implementing thoughtfully executed data-driven improvements.
We Welcome All Providing stellar customer service, we create an environment, real or virtual, that is welcoming, friendly and hospitable. As attentive listeners, we provide timely feedback to problems, challenges and inquiries. We are open and accessible to all.
We Value All Forms of Creative ExpressionThere is no one universal definition of art but there is general consensus that art is the conscious creation of something beautiful or meaningful using skill and imagination. Our definition of “art” is as wide as it is deep, including theatre, dance, music, creative writing, visual arts, photography, poetry, film, fashion, cultural (zoos, science centers, museums), gardening, architecture, opera, food, graphic design, jewelry making, quilting, to name a few. All these activities have creativity at the center, and can each take creative expression to new levels of complexity and beauty. Creativity breathes life into all manners of being, offering opportunities to enhance any experience.
We took our time, we developed a shared sense of who we are and what we believe. We are proud of the statements we have created…guiding us as the future unfolds.
Deborah E. Mikula