Guest Blogger Gail Sachson owns Ask Me About Art, offering lectures tours and program planning. She is Vice-Chair and Acting Chair of the Cultural Affairs Commission and a member of the Public Art Committee.
“What Could We Be?” and “Whom Could We Serve?” were just a few of the questions asked at the first advisory board meeting of the 45-year-old Creative Arts Center of Dallas. I’m the chair of the newly formed advisory board, and in an effort to increase visibility and recognition, CAC Executive Director Diana Pollak and I invited 24 leaders of the arts community to help position the CAC, a non-profit adult art center, as “the leading art school for adults in Dallas.”
Members of advisory boards offer their good names, their expertise in problem solving and possible positive partnerships. The popular and successful CAC didn’t have any glaring problems to be solved. But Pollak, after four years in her position, felt that CAC deserved even more recognition in the wider community, that the center could offer programs to those not being presently served and that a strong advisory board could help with these challenges.
After moving several times, the CAC has been located since 1990 on two acres in East Dallas in what once was Bayles Elementary School, a Works Project Administration creation from the Great Depression. The questions facing the advisory board were: Is the location a logistical drawback to those not in the neighborhood? Are the renovated and cramped quarters a detraction? Or is the historic legacy and reclamation an attraction?
Other questions also remained: Is the center serving the elderly, the disabled and other special interest groups? Is there a way to create the same demand for weekday classes that exists for weekend offerings? Is the artistic teaching staff getting the acclimation it deserves? And would school certification and/or accreditation be a benefit to teachers and students?
Questions like these provided lively discussion and pointed the center in exciting new directions. But what was unique about this meeting was how thoughts were recorded.
Other meeting facilitators will record and validate everyone’s contributions for all to see. But at the CAC meeting, an artwork recording the process was created at the same time. On an 8-foot long white board, Mary Stall, a member of the CAC board of directors and a talented graphic recorder, wrote down and illustrated what was said as the advisory board said it. Cartoonlike images and script of varying boldness danced across the board and helped create a collective memory. A colorful camera reminds us of the discussion to add photography classes. A Hansel and Gretel-like house represented a discussed artist-in-residency program. A yellow DART bus … ah, yes, now I remember — we want to work with DART. The resulting graphic recording will reach the CAC membership in a newsletter and be the impetus for discussion for the board of directors. It will also serve as the minutes for the next advisory board meeting in the fall.
“Graphic Recording is the process of capturing the essence of conversation as it is progressing. When ideas are organized, the participants are able to see relationships and patterns,” Stall says.
Pollak adds, “It is an incredibly dynamic way of facilitating a meeting for arts organizations in particular, as it is so visual and energetic – and an artwork in itself.”
The Creative Arts Center Advisory Board
Jose Antonio Bowen, Dean, Meadows School of the Arts; Adriana Cobo-Frenkel, Artist; Kenneth Craighead, Gallery Owner; Sam Daniel, CAC Board President; Charles Eiseman; Tracie Fraley, Principal, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts; Jimmy Galbraith; Laurie Sands Harrison, Rosewood Corporation; David & Linda Hickman, Artist and Community Advocate; Rebecca Romanek Johnson; Kay Kallos, Manager, Dallas Public Art; Sherri King; Veletta Lill, Executive Director of Dallas Arts District; John Marcucci, Gallery Director; Patricia Meadows, Arts Consultant; Robert Milnes, Dean, UNT College of Visual Arts & Design; Diana Pollak, Executive Director, CAC; Robert Pollock; Gail Sachson, Vice-Chair & Acting Chair of Dallas Cultural Affairs Commission; Jeremy Strick, Director, Nasher Sculpture Center; Katherine Wagner, CEO, Dallas Business Council for the Arts; Roslyn Walker, Senior Curator, Arts of Africa, the Pacific & the Americas, DMA; Cheryl Vogel, Gallery Curator.