Engaging your Community

Case Studies of Partner Sites

These four museums worked with the OMA to pilot the Engaging Your Community toolkit in fall 2015 and winter 2016. These case studies show how each museum made use of the toolkit for thier particular situation.

Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, Sault Ste. Marie

Museum on the Boyne, Alliston

North Lanark Regional Museum, Appleton

Art Gallery of Mississauga, Mississauga

Bonus Case Study: The OMA Emerging Museum Professionals Advisory Committee Online Engaging Your Community Process 2016


 

 

Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre

Location: Sault Ste. Marie

Link: http://www.bushplane.com/

Staff: 6.5 full-time

Volunteers: 40

 

Vision
Connecting people of all ages to Canada’s exciting bushplane and forest protection heritage in a world-class museum.

Mission Statement
The CBHC preserves and tells the story of Canada’s bushplane and forest fire protection heritage and how it has shaped life in northern and remote parts of Canada. The CBHC collects, preserves,
exhibits and interprets a collection of bushplanes and related material and promotes public understanding of their significance by offering quality presentations, education programs and visitor experiences in a public museum facility. It also serves as a centre of research and information on bushplane and forest fire fighting heritage.
 
 

Timeline – 5 months

August 4, 2015    Pilot Project Starts
October 7, 2015    Working Group Orientation
November 12, 2015    Self-Assessment
January 27, 2016    Community Consultation
January 28, 2016    Action Plan Meeting
 

Working group self-assessment meeting

Working Group Composition & Orientation
The Working Group at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre was composed of eight individuals: three staff members, three board members and two community members. The community members were invited to join the group due to their connections with the broader community through their positions working with the newcomer community of Sault Ste. Marie and the United Way.  

The orientation meeting was an opportunity for the Working Group to build consensus around the triggers and objectives that led the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre to pilot the process outlined in Engaging your Community: A Toolkit for Museums. Working Group members also discussed community engagement and identified local organizations that effectively encouraged community members to learn about local history.
 

Reason for Applying:
"Community engagement is fundamental to our [Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre’s] sustainability and critical to our growth. This project will help us measure how effectively we currently engage our community and help us improve the processes we use to engage our community even more deeply. The toolkit will help us identify how to become relevant to more people within our community."

Desired Outcomes:

  • Better understanding of what drives community engagement
  • Increased understanding of the value and relevance of our museum
  • Increased sense of ownership and responsibility for the sustainability of our museum by the community
  • Broaden the range of communities we engage
     

Self-Assessment
The three hour self-assessment meeting enabled the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre’s (CBHC) Working Group to evaluate its current state of community engagement and to identify areas of strength as well as areas for improvement. The meeting agenda followed the facilitation plan in the toolkit, although the questions relating to each strategic area were rephrased to improve comprehension. This was done in response to feedback the OMA received at the Art Gallery of Mississauga self-assessment meeting.
 
In the following five strategic areas, the Working Group evaluated the CBHC’s current services and activities:

The process highlighted the fact that the CBHC was doing a great deal and there were already a lot of existing partnership with other organizations. The Working Group felt that many of their current projects and programs were at least moderately developed, and a lack of formal evaluation prevented them from being Exemplary. While each strategic area was strong overall, there was room in all areas to improve community involvement and engagement. The Self-Assessment process also highlighted the opportunity to review the museum’s mission to ensure that it expresses current priorities.

In order to ensure that invitations to the community consultation were sent out at least one month in advance, at the end of the self-assessment meeting the Working Group committed to independently creating an invitation list for the Community Consultation.  To allow more time for invitations to be distributed, the Working Group decided to change the date of the Community Consultation to January 2016 rather than the original December date that had been planned.

 


 

 

 

  Community Consultation
Like the other museums in this pilot project, CBHC decided to use a modified version of Option A: Community Conversations from Engaging your Community: A Toolkit for Museums. The facilitation plan was reduced to three hours so that the event could take place on a weekday evening. The facilitation plan was modified as follows:
  • An ice breaker activity was added to the agenda to warm up the group and to allow an opportunity for participants to meet others they did not know that well in the room.
  • In order to complete the consultation within three hours, the question rounds were reduced from four to three by combining rounds one and two and eliminating the two questions about key groups and places in the community.
  • The Idea Worksheet was modified to a two-sided sheet with space for the idea title and brief idea description on the front with questions that expand the idea on the reverse.
  1. The front of the Idea Worksheet was used by each group to identify their top ideas and for the dotmocracy activity.
  2. The back of the Idea Worksheet was used to expand the top ideas.
  • When closing the session, the facilitator asked participants to reflect on the day’s experience and to say aloud one word or phrase that summarized their learnings or what they are leaving with at the end of the consultation.

Community members were invited personally by members of the working group and coverage in the media brought in additional attendees. CBHC sent out a media release that was picked up by both SooToday.com  and CTV Northern Ontario .

Twenty community members participated in the three hour consultation at the CBHC. A broad range of ages were represented and many participants had no prior relationship with the CBHC. Individuals were affiliated with design companies, the arts and culture sector, the aviation sector and a research institute.

The consultation provided excellent information to the Working Group including the participants’ perception of the values and goals of the community (local history, nature, border town, status quo)  as well as the CBHC’s role within the community (events, family, history, innovation, school trips) and what barriers affect the CBHC’s ability to connect with the community (exhibits, location, space, financial, web).
 
Community members selected four ideas that they identified as highly significant and meaningful that ranged from easier to implement (Entrepreneur Co-Working Space and Outreach) to harder to implement (IMAX theatre, flights at the museum).

 

Action Plan
After comparing the results from the self-assessment meeting and the community consultation, the CBHC Working Group identified areas of alignment and misalignment which informed their selection of several ideas and themes they wished to move forward to deepen the museum’s relationship with the community. These ideas focus on opportunities to bring more locals downtown and into the museum through special events, rotating exhibits and food and drink opportunities.  

Focusing in on two or three ideas, the CBHC will develop three initial steps to move each idea forward in the coming months. As the ideas are further developed and implemented, the CBHC will involve those individuals who indicated their interest in the Wheel of Engagement sheets.

When compiling the outputs from the consultation, it emerged that the community identified the CBHC as having an important role within the Sault Ste. Marie community. With that role, the CBHC is positioned to be a leader in the revitalization of the community with a focus on the advancement of the arts and culture sector.

 

Impact
The short-term impact of the pilot project on the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre has been an improved sense of camaraderie and understanding between the board and staff members who have worked together as part of the Working Group.  

The CBHC also deepened its relationship with those community members who attended the consultation. These participants had a positive experience through which their voices were heard. The CBHC was able to hear constructive feedback as well as learn what activities would be the most meaningful and would best serve the community.

By undertaking the pilot project with the OMA, the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre has established positive connections with community members that it will continue to nurture going forward, creating opportunities for sustainable community engagement.

     

 


 

Museum on the Boyne

Location: Alliston

Link: http://newtecumseth.ca/visitors/museum-on-the-boyne-2/

Staff: 1 full-time, 1 part-time contract

Volunteers: varies based on time of year

 

Vision
The Museum on the Boyne will inspire curiosity and understanding of the people
and events that shaped our communities.

Mission
The Museum on the Boyne commits to safeguard and illustrate the history of South Simcoe from first settlement to present day.
 
 

Timeline – 5 months

September 11, 2015    Pilot Project Starts
September 22, 2015    Working Group Orientation
November 17, 2015    Self-Assessment
January 19, 2016    Community Consultation
February 2, 2016    Action Plan Meeting

Working Group Self-Assessment Meeting

 

Working Group Composition & Orientation
The Working Group at the Museum on the Boyne was composed of seven individuals: two staff members, two municipal Councillors and three volunteers. One of Museum on the Boyne’s objectives was to engage community members from all five municipalities in South Simcoe County. One Councillor was from a municipality not currently engaged by the museum while the other Councillor represented the municipality in which the museum was located. The volunteers were all individuals highly invested in the future of the Museum on the Boyne. One was a previous summer intern, another a former staff member and the third volunteer had a strong history working with the museum.

The orientation meeting was an opportunity for the Working Group to build consensus around the meaning of community engagement and the triggers and objectives that led the Museum on the Boyne to pilot the process outlined in Engaging your Community: A Toolkit for Museums.  


Reason for Applying:
"Museum on the Boyne represents 5 municipalities in South Simcoe yet we are funding primarily by only one. We have representatives from each municipality that sit on our Advisory Committee and many are new since the last municipal election in the fall. They are eager to increase the museum's presence, have their residents participate actively in the museum and have their municipalities contribute annual funding to help sustain the museum. Since our mandated area is so large and we have enough trouble with awareness in our own town, we could certainly use the support of the OMA to engage the South Simcoe County community."

Desired Outcomes:
The Museum on the Boyne would like to increase the South Simcoe County community's sense of ownership of the museum. Most of the surrounding communities think of Museum on the Boyne as 'Alliston's Museum' and we would like to change this way of thinking. We have several desired outcomes:

  • To increase the number of local artifact donations therefore making our collection more in line with our mandate
  • To understand what items or themes the community considers important to protect and interpret
  • To instill a sense of value with the community of our 3 heritage buildings (we hope this will lessen vandalism and encourage our community members to keep a protective eye on the buildings)
  • To provide the programs that the community desires and cannot find anywhere else
  • To increase revenue through donations, programs, special events and gift shop
  • To strengthen the support from the community which will increase volunteers, donors and visitors
     

Self-Assessment
During the three hour self-assessment meeting, the Museum on the Boyne Working Group evaluated the museum’s current state of community engagement and identified areas of strength and improvement.
 
The Working Group evaluated the museum’s current services and activities in the following five strategic areas,

The Working Group identified that the museum needs to improve awareness of its mission, purpose and collections. Many community members outside of New Tecumseth, the municipality in which the museum is located, were unaware that the Museum on the Boyne represented the five municipalities of South Simcoe; they referred to it as the ‘Alliston Museum’.

While discussing audience and community, it became clear that the Working Group felt the interaction with community members from municipalities other than New Tecumseth was minimal or non-existent. The group discussed opportunities for outreach in these other communities and how to engage community members to lead local activities using the collections and materials of Museum on the Boyne.  

The Working Group was confident that the community members currently visiting and participating in museum activities were having positive experiences, but that there were opportunities to better evaluate those experiences and to increase community involvement in the development and implementation of activities.

In order to ensure that invitations to the community consultation were sent out at least one month in advance, the Working Group was asked to confirm who they were inviting to the consultation at the end of the self-assessment meeting.
 

 

 

 

  Community Consultation
Like the other museums in this pilot project, Museum on the Boyne selected Option A: Community Conversations from Engaging your Community: A Toolkit for Museums. The facilitation plan was reduced to three hours so that the event could take place on a weekday afternoon. The facilitation plan was modified as follows:
  • An ice breaker activity was added to the agenda to warm up the group and to allow an opportunity for participants to meet others they did not know that well in the room.
  • In order to complete the consultation within three hours, the question rounds were reduced from four to three by combining rounds one and two and eliminating the two questions about key groups and places in the community.
  • The Idea Worksheet was modified to a two-sided sheet with space for the idea title and brief idea description on the front with questions that expand the idea on the reverse.
  1. The front of the Idea Worksheet was used by each group to identify their top ideas and for the dotmocracy activity.
  2. The back of the Idea Worksheet was used to expand the top ideas.

Over 30 community members participated in the consultation at the Museum on the Boyne. All five municipalities were well represented by local residents, individuals from the arts, culture and heritage sectors, municipal staff members and members of the press. A Councillor from the Working Group additionally organized a bus to bring community members from his constituency to Museum on the Boyne for the consultation.

 The consultation provided excellent information to the Working Group including the participants’ perception of the values and goals of the community (preserving history, learning, partnership, diverse demographics) as well as the Museum on the Boyne’s role within the

community (escapism, emotional, entertaining, interactive, resource and knowledge centre) and what barriers affect the museum’s ability to connect with the community (awareness, accessibility, location, hours of operation, funding, relevance).
 
Community members selected five ideas that they identified as highly significant and meaningful that ranged from easier to implement (networking and events) to harder to implement (outreach, advertising and partnership).

For another perspective on the day, view Miriam King’s article Focus on Heritage at the Museum on the Boyne in the Bradford Times.

 

Action Plan
After comparing the results from the self-assessment meeting and the community consultation, the Museum on the Boyne Working Group identified areas of alignment and misalignment which informed their selection of two ideas to deepen the museum’s relationship with the community: outreach and advertising. These ideas will raise awareness of the museum’s mission, activities and collections and will bring the museum into the five municipalities of South Simcoe County.

Working Group members expressed concern over adding activities to their existing workload that would require additional financial and human resources. By using the Wheel of Engagement sheets from the consultation, staff will be able to increase their capacity to pursue these goals by collaborating with community members.
 

Impact
By undertaking the pilot project with the OMA, the Museum on the Boyne has established positive connections with community members, municipal staff members and Councillors from across the five municipalities included in its mandate. These individuals are now more invested in the future of the museum, its financial sustainability and its relevance to their respective communities. Building upon this support and momentum, the museum will be better able to fulfill its mandate to serve all communities within South Simcoe County.  

With the intention of continuing consultation with the community through an online survey, the Museum on the Boyne is set on a path that will create meaningful opportunities for community members to get involved, have their say and feel personal ownership of the Museum on the Boyne. 

     

 



 
 

North Lanark Regional Museum

Location: Appleton

Link: http://northlanarkregionalmuseum.com

Staff: 1

Volunteers: 20

 

The North Lanark Regional Museum is owned and operated by the North Lanark Historical Society with the goal of collecting, preserving and displaying the history of Mississippi Mills.

Timeline – 6 months

September 9, 2015    Pilot Project Starts
September 29, 2015    Working Group Orientation
November 25, 2015    Self-Assessment
March 10, 2016    Community Consultation
March 11, 2016    Action Plan Meeting
 

 

Working Group at their Self-Assessment meeting

Working Group Composition & Orientation
The Working Group at the North Lanark Regional Museum was composed of nine individuals: one staff person, one Mississippi Mills municipal Councillor, the Cultural and Recreation Director for Mississippi Mills, two community volunteers and two North Lanark Historical Society board members (the group that operates the North Lanark Regional Museum). The majority of Working Group members had a long established history and relationship with the community of Mississippi Mills and were deeply invested in the future of the museum.

At the beginning of the orientation meeting, the Working Group completed a Terms of Reference which defined the group’s membership, governance, purpose and goals. During the meeting, the group discussed the triggers and objectives that led the North Lanark Regional Museum to pilot the process outlined in Engaging your Community: A Toolkit for Museums. 
 

Reason for Applying:
"The North Lanark Historical Society is applying to participate in “Engaging Your Community” because the Society focuses on increasing community engagement at the North Lanark Regional Museum.  The North Lanark Historical Society operates the North Lanark Regional Museum.  Guidance would be beneficial as goals and strategies are developed to increase partnership between the museum and the community.  Through collaboration with OMA professionals and the Society, innovative ways of developing a plan to increase the number of visitors and financial support will be achieved.  The North Lanark Historical Society looks forward to working with OMA professionals and leveraging their extensive experience in this area to develop a realistic and achievable plan over a six month span."

Desired Outcomes:

  1. A realistic plan is prepared to increase museum and community partnership.
  2. Criteria are established to improve the museum’s sustainability.
  3. The 5 year Strategic Plan will devise better ways of focusing on the vision of the Historical Society.
  4. Enhance and market the museum’s profile through various media.


Self-Assessment
During the three hour self-assessment meeting, the North Lanark Regional Museum Working Group evaluated the museum’s current state of community engagement and identified areas of strength and improvement.
 
In the following five strategic areas, the Working Group evaluated the museum’s current services and activities:

The Working Group was confident that current visitors to the museum were having positive and enriching experiences. In particular, people interested in genealogy or local history praised the museum staff member and volunteers who consistently went above and beyond to perform research, locate objects and provide explanations. The Working Group identified the museum’s strengths as its personal connection with visitors as well as the museum’s focus on local people and their stories.

When discussing the museum’s mission and the community’s perception of the museum, the Working Group identified that the North Lanark Regional Museum needs to improve branding, advertising and signage to increase awareness that it represents the entire community of Mississippi Mills and is not the ‘Appleton Museum’.

The group also recognized that it would be beneficial to develop more formal evaluation practices as the majority of existing museum activities are only evaluated through verbal feedback.

In order to ensure that invitations to the community consultation were sent out at least one month in advance, the Working Group was asked to confirm who they were inviting to the consultation at the end of the self-assessment meeting.
 

Community Consultation
Approximately 48 community members participated in the three hour consultation hosted by the OMA and the North Lanark Regional Museum Working Group at the Almonte Old Town Hall. Many paid staff and volunteers from the local arts, heritage and culture sector were in attendance as well as community members and municipal staff members.

The Working Group selected Option A: Community Conversations from Engaging your Community: A Toolkit for Museums. The facilitation plan as outlined in the toolkit was modified as follows:
  • An ice breaker activity was added to the agenda to warm up the group and to allow an opportunity for participants to meet others they did not know that well in the room.
  • In order to complete the consultation within three hours, the question rounds were reduced from four to three by combining rounds one and two and eliminating the two questions about key groups and places in the community.
  • The Idea Worksheet was modified to a two-sided sheet with space for the idea title and brief idea description on the front with questions that expand the idea on the reverse.
  1. The front of the Idea Worksheet was used when groups identified their top ideas and during the dotmocracy activity.
  2. The back of the Idea Worksheet was used to expand the top ideas.
 

 

 

The consultation provided excellent information to the Working Group including the participants’ perception of the values and goals of the community (preserving the soul of Almonte, collaboration, community inclusion, connection and passion) as well as the North Lanark Regional Museum’s role within the community (information, creating/continuing local narrative, personal stories) and what barriers affect the museum’s ability to connect with the community (isolation, accessibility, funding/capacity, branding).
 
Community members selected six ideas that they identified as highly significant and meaningful that ranged from easier to implement (pop-up displays, relocating the museum, a human library program and show & tell) to harder to implement (involving youth and a mobile museum).

 

 

  Action Plan
After comparing the results from the self-assessment meeting and the community consultation, the North Lanark Regional Museum Working Group identified areas of alignment and misalignment which informed their selection of three ideas: branding, a human library program and developing social media. These ideas will deepen the museum’s relationship with the community and overcome some of the barriers identified by consultation participants.
  • The Branding  and Social Media ideas respond to the community’s uncertainty about the scope and name of the museum and also aim to increase awareness of the North Lanark Regional Museum.
  • The Human Library program is an opportunity to bring together different audiences within the community, to increase the number of museum ambassadors and to bring the museum out into the community.

The Working Group recognized the importance of responding to the community’s suggestion of relocating the museum’s collections, programs and services to a new space. They advocated for the existing location due to its many benefits to both visitors and museum workers. These include: parking, outdoor space, a sense of historical place, adequate storage space and reasonable maintenance costs. The Working Group also identified that by working on the museum’s brand, the human library program and social media, they would be overcoming many of the barriers associated with their existing location.

Going forward, the North Lanark Regional Museum has committed to continue engaging community members through focus groups and online surveys. They also plan to reach out to individuals who indicated on the Wheel of Engagement sheets that they are interested in volunteering their time or partnering on initiatives.

 

Impact
By partnering with the OMA on the Engaging your Community pilot project, the North Lanark Regional Museum has raised its profile and gained a better understanding of the museum’s unique attributes within the heritage community of Mississippi Mills. Residents from across the area are now more aware of and invested in the activities of the museum.

With a plan to continue to engage community members through volunteer opportunities, further consultations and partnerships, the North Lanark Regional Museum will successfully grow its capacity and value within Mississippi Mills.

     

 

Art Gallery of Mississauga

Location: Mississauga

Link: http://www.artgalleryofmississauga.com/

Staff: 8

Volunteers: 80

 

Mission
Engage. Think. Inspire. This phrase opens the dialogue at the AGM. The Gallery connects with the people of Mississauga through the collection and presentation of relevant works from a range of periods and movements in Canadian art. Expressing multiple ideas and concepts, this visual art translates into meaningful cultural and social experiences for all audiences. The AGM employs innovative education, artist projects and other forms of dialogue to advance critical enquiry and community connection to the visual arts.

The Gallery carries out its Mandate to bring art to the community and the community to art in accordance with professional museum practices set to North American standards .
 
 

Timeline – 6 months

September 16, 2015    Pilot Project Starts
September 26, 2015    Working Group Orientation
October 8, 2015    Self-Assessment
April 2, 2016    Community Consultation
April 12, 2016    Action Plan Meeting



Working Group at their Self-Assessment meeting

 

Working Group Composition & Orientation
The Director of the Art Gallery of Mississauga (AGM) was still very new to both the Gallery and the city when this process began and took advantage of the opportunity start her tenure by listening to and engaging with both internal and external perspectives on the past, present and future of the Gallery’s programs.

The Working Group at the AGM was originally composed of three volunteers, one community member from a partner organization, and two staff members, but an additional staff member was hired part way through the project. The group was a mix of people who had long relationships with the gallery and some who were very newly involved, but all members were enthusiastic to make sure that the AGM builds on its successes and engages with the diversity of audiences in Mississauga.

During the Orientation meeting, the group discussed the triggers and objectives that led the AGM to pilot the process outlined in Engaging your Community: A Toolkit for Museums
 

Reason for Applying:
"The Art Gallery of Mississauga strives to 'bring art to the people and people to the art' through its energized and dedicated community outreach programme. Moving forward, the AGM desires to develop new, sustainable and long lasting relations with the First Nations Communities, specifically the Mississaugas of the New Credit as well as the rich and diverse immigrant communities that make up over 50% of our cities population.  Our intention, with the assistance of this project and other initiatives, is to better understand the role of a Public Gallery in the context of a population unlike any other in Canada. Mississauga is the 6th largest City in Canada and exists today on lands that were the ancestral home of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. With over 96.5% of our population speaking a language other than English or French as their mother tongue, it is no surprise that Peel Region has the highest proportion of immigrants in the GTA.  Mississauga is also a young city with Peel residents as the youngest in the GTA with a median age of 36.9 years. Mississauga is also a city of income extremes with a strong dependence upon social housing and food services alongside more Fortune 500 headquarters than any other city in Canada. Our goal is to create relationships and programmes that reflect the rich diversity and unique community that is Mississauga."

Desired Outcomes:
In order for the AGM to move into this next chapter in a sustainable and relevant manner, we require certain systems in place to assist us in assessing our impact on the community. We aim to be better connected and more relevant on a grass roots level. Moving forward, our existing relationship with key stakeholders and community groups will be as important as how we participate with new and 'outside the box' social service agencies and grass roots organizations.   With all of these factors, it is essential that the AGM develop an action plan in order to continue to build relevant and beneficial relationships with the community, social services providers and inside and 'outside the box' stakeholders which serve to support the rich and quickly growing demographic in Mississauga.
 

Self-Assessment
During the three hour self-assessment meeting, the AGM Working Group evaluated the museum’s current state of community engagement and identified areas of strength and improvement.
 
In the following five strategic areas, the Working Group evaluated the gallery’s current services and activities:

By brainstorming on current programs, the Working Group found that the gallery was already actively reaching out to a variety of audiences with activities that are designed to be inclusive and low or no cost but could be improved in future through formal evaluation. For those who already engage with the AGM, the gallery is perceived as friendly and inclusive through the actions of its staff and volunteers.

The Working Group was in agreement that a communications plan defining the gallery's targeted audiences was in the development stage but would increase the AGM's ability to engage new audiences such as Indigenous communities, artists, and curators. The group members cited developing the AGM website as an important way to improve the way that the gallery implements its mission.

The group was also in agreement that the AGM’s existing connections and collaborations continue to enhance public experiences but that reaching out to more community organizations would increase underdeveloped audiences. Increased community outreach at established events and festivals throughout Mississauga could also increase audience and community engagement.
 

 

 

 

  Community Consultation - Visioning Session
The consultation was originally set for late January 2016 but was moved to April 2 due to potential organizational changes at the Art Gallery of Mississauga. The AGM had started talking with City of Mississauga officials about a feasibility study to consider an expansion. The AGM decided to explore how the Engaging your Community consultation could contribute to the feasibility study and strategic plan as it was an opportunity for community members to reflect on the gallery’s existing space, activities and services as well as ideas for the future.

After several talks between the AGM, the OMA and the facilitator, an agenda for the consultation was confirmed. It borrowed some elements of structure and content from Engaging your Community: A Toolkit for Museums while incorporating new content that AGM requested. Most importantly, while some of the activities were modified, the intention of the consultation remained the same: for the AGM to hear and learn from a wide range of community members. It was important to create opportunities for participants to provide organic input into the vision of the Art Gallery of Mississauga in 2020 including opportunities, strengths and potential programs and services.

The facilitation plan had the following structure:
  • Registration and refreshments.
  • Welcome from Mayor Bonnie Crombie.
  • AGM Land Acknowledgement.
  • Opening Remarks welcoming participants and framing the activities and the objectives of the consultation.  
  • Ice breaker activity to warm up the room and set the stage for an interactive consultation.
  • Presentation on Mississauga’s project demographic changes to 2020.
  • Group discussion activities to reflect on current AGM programs and services as well as an initial round of suggestions for future AGM programs and services.
  • Presentation of promising programs and services from other arts organizations.
  • Individual brainstorming and group prioritization of bold ideas for new programs.
  • Voting on bold ideas.
  • Closing.
On a snowy Saturday, approximately 70 community members participated in the three hour consultation hosted by the AGM Working Group in the Civic Centre atrium just outside the gallery space. It was a large, diverse and engaged group representing many organizations and stakeholders in Mississauga. Attendance numbers were so much higher than expected that extra tables, chairs and coffee had to be set up.

To document the process and to add to the visual impact of the day, the AGM invited illustrator Steve Manale to create a visual record of the process.

The consultation provided excellent information to the Working Group. Community members selected fourteen top bold ideas to help the AGM bring art to the community and the community to art. The ideas that received the most votes were:
  1. Pop ups that bring large programming in current infrastructure (ie: libraries, malls, buses) with call to local artists,
  2. Changing the Structure: Making community and art inseparable,
  3. Artist mobile studios/gallery.

 

Action Plan
After comparing the results from the self-assessment meeting and the community consultation, the AGM Working Group identified areas of alignment and misalignment which informed their selection of four ideas to move forward with: Re-branding starting from the mission, Changing the Structure: Make Art and Community Inseparable, a Destination Experience/ Space (with a link to the Credit River), and pop-up sites/satellite spaces.
The feedback from the Community Consultation helped to create an action plan that the working group can get started on right away, but it also provided some robust information and community connections that the AGM will use in the creation of its new strategic plan.

Impact
The Engaging your Community pilot project provided a supportive opportunity for the Art Gallery of Mississauga to reach out to the large and diverse community of Mississauga and to start an authentic conversation about art and the role of the gallery in the city. The interest that the community showed in participating in the consultation helped the AGM to realize what an asset and trusted leader the gallery is in the community and how many opportunities there are for future partnerships.

The Engaging Your Community process has given the AGM is confidence that their strategic plan and facility feasibility study will set a course for the future that reflects and incorporates the voices of Mississauga’s diverse communities. The personal connections that were created within the working group and at the consultation will ensure that future programming includes both the input and active participation of community members as well.


 
Ontario Key  

Ontario Museum Association – Emerging Museum Professionals Advisory Committee (EMPAC)

Location: Ontario - various locations

Link: https://goemp.wordpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/groups/306357482771679/

Structure: Committee of a Non-profit Association

Members: 5

OMA Staff Liaisons: 2

 

Mission
To provide a voice for, empower, support and create a community of emerging museum professionals within the Ontario Museum Association (OMA) and Ontario’s museum sector. To develop succession and sustainability plans that will allow the network and committee to continue beyond the Trillium funding period. In all activities, to work with the OMA to ensure a strong, coherent voice and programs for emerging museum professionals as well as supporting the objectives of the OMA mission and Strategic Plan

 
 

Timeline – 3 months
January 14, 2016: Project Starts
February 27, 2016: Self-Assessment
March 2-24, 2016: Community Consultation
April 15, 2016: Action Plan Meeting
 

 

Modifying the Toolkit for a Fully Online Process
EMPAC’s use of Engaging Your Community: A Toolkit for Museums took a very different form from the other organizations that were involved in the pilot. The Committee was formed in 2013 as part of the same Ontario Trillium Foundation funded project that created a piloted the Engaging Your Community toolkit. The Committee was formed and fostered for three years by project staff at the OMA, but from the very beginning was intended to transition to a more independent group that would continue its work beyond the funding period of the grant. As the funding period came to an end, the Committee and OMA staff considered the best way to facilitate this transition and to ensure that the committee would be representative of the EMP community going forward.

Christine Moreland, museumsuccession Project Coordinator, faced with limited funding and a committee and EMP community that was dispersed all across Ontario, took the steps of the Engaging Your Community toolkit and modified the process to be completely online while maintaining the outcomes for each step. The Committee approved this process and plotted out a timeline that would allow them to complete the process within about 3 months. Christine Moreland acted as the facilitator for the process.
 

Reason for Undertaking the Process:
The Emerging Museum Professionals Advisory Committee (EMPAC) needed to consider what form it will take and what activities it would offer when the Trillium funding came to an end in 2016. Initial conversations proved challenging as EMPAC did not feel informed as to the needs or wants of the wider EMP community.  

Desired Outcomes:
By undertaking an adapted version of the Engaging your Community process, EMPAC will be able to assess the effectiveness of its activities thus far and learn more about what the EMP community wants or needs from such a leadership group. This information will position EMPAC to make a more informed decision about its future including what resources EMPAC will require.
 

Self-Assessment
As the Committee was already an established working body, they skipped the formal orientation step and started with the Self-Assessment.

The self-assessment step took place as an online meeting. The background information was circulated in advance and was a very useful document to have at hand as several of the committee members were quite new to their positions and were not fully aware of all the activity that had happened in the previous 3 years.

The Committee used a Google Doc spreadsheet that they could all access at the same time to respond to the questions in the five categories. Each in their own colour, Committee members simply typed their responses into a chart rather than using sticky notes. The Committee then discussed the results and agreed on where each category fell on the scale of 1 to 5.

The Committee generally agreed that the initiatives that had been created to enhance the OMA conference were the most successful to date because they engaged EMPs with others in the sector while providing programming specifically for them. Integration of EMPs on OMA Council and other committees, the growth of the facebook group, and the regular meet-ups in Toronto were also seen as strengths.

The main weakness that the committee saw in all of its programming was a lack of data about the needs of the EMP community and the concentration of activity in the Toronto area.

 

Community Consultation
The Community Conversations facilitation process from the Engaging Your Community toolkit was modified to be completely online to engage as many EMPs as possible. Rather than using one face-to-face forum for consultation, a combination of written submissions and webinars over several weeks were planned to accomplish what would normally happen during one day.

Due to the fact that they did not have a good idea of who made up the community they wanted to hear from beyond the membership of the Group of Ontario Emerging Museum Professionals (GOEMP) facebook group, personalized invitations were not feasible in this case. Instead, notices inviting participation from all EMPs in Ontario were distributed in all of the OMA’s communication channels (newsletters and social media) as well as the GOEMP facebook page.
 

 

The virtual community consultation had two phases:

Phase one: March 2 – 15, 2016
EMPs were asked to contribute their opinions about the EMP community and ideas for future activities in an online, collaborative Google document that was open for approximately two weeks. Each person who signed in created a new column for themselves and responded to the questions. 34 people contributed to the document.

In order to encourage participation in this process, all contributors were entered into a draw for a 2016 OMA conference registration.

Participants responded to the following questions:

SECTION 1
Think about the EMP community and respond to the questions below.
Q1. What are the values that are core to this community?
Q2. What are the biggest issues facing EMPs?
Q3. What are your biggest hopes for this community?
Q4. How would you describe EMPAC’s relationship with the community?

SECTION 2
Identify the assets and barriers within the community.
Q1. To you, what are the most valuable assets within this community?
  • People
  • Places
  • Events
  • Groups

Q2. What barriers to participation do EMPs face when participating in EMPAC and its activities?
Q3. Do these barriers affect specific groups that you can identify?

SECTION 3
Generate ideas for programs and services that would have meaning for the EMP community.
Q1. Think of ideas for ways that EMPAC could reach out or go out into the community
Q2. Think of ideas for ways that the community could participate in EMPAC and its activities (think - programs, services, roles, responsibilities, access, events, etc.)

When all of the input was compiled, 13 ideas were identified to bring forward to the next phase of the consultation.
        
Phase 2: March 22 – 24, 2016
EMPs, as well as other stakeholders, were then asked to participate in one of three webinars where they would discuss the top ideas that came out of the first round of consultation. Each of these webinars was moderated by a member of the EMP Advisory Committee.

March 22, 2016    7:00 – 8:00 p.m. EST    
March 23, 2016    12:30 – 1:30p.m. EST    
March 24, 2016    12:30 – 1:30p.m. EST    

Polls were used to gather feedback from the participants on what ideas they felt were the most important to achieve, the most difficult to achieve, the easiest to achieve, and the most different from the others. The polls were followed by discussion about what the participants’ choices were based on what impact the ideas might have if they were achieved.

Following the webinars participants were encouraged to complete a survey indicating their interest in future involvement with the committee or its activities, feedback for EMPAC and feedback for the OMA.

Participants in the webinars were also entered into the draw for the 2016 OMA conference registration.

 

Action Plan
After comparing the results from the self-assessment meeting and the community consultation, EMPAC identified areas of alignment and misalignment which informed their selection of two main ideas to move forward with: Creating an engaged committee and creating EMP activities for the OMA Annual Conference.
The feedback from the Community Consultation helped to create an action plan that EMPAC could get started with right away as well as plenty of other ideas to pursue once they established themselves as a committee independent of the OMA.

 

Impact
The Engaging your Community process provided a structured methodology for EMPAC to reach out to a broad and diverse audience of emerging museum professionals and other stakeholders. The number of individuals who participated in the consultation gave the committee members confidence that the feedback they received was representative of the community’s needs.
 
The members of EMPAC worked during the summer of 2016 to revise their terms of reference as a committee and in the fall of 2016 recruited new members to join the executive committee of the Group of Ontario Emerging Museum Professionals (GOEMP), an independent volunteer committee with a close working relationship with the OMA. During the transition period, EMPAC committee members organized EMP activities at the 2016 OMA Annual Conference that built on previous years’ successes and introduced new elements like the EMP Conference Survival Guide.

EMPAC went into the Engaging Your Community process looking for a way forward and came out with a plan to become GOEMP. By the end of 2016, with a dynamic group of ten engaged committee members, a new website, plenty of enthusiasm, and community feedback to refer to, GOEMP was well prepared to make informed decisions about its future and serve the EMP community in Ontario.

This initiative is part of the museumsuccession project funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

The museumsuccession Project was developed to strengthen Ontario’s museum sector by enhancing governance, fostering stronger relationships between museums and their communities as well as supporting Emerging Museum Professionals.

Ontario Trillium Foundation

      Ontario Key         Gov-Ontario