Wednesday, December 18, 2013
We all have aspirational social impact goals for our organizations. These goals are expressed in mission and vision statements. They are hinted at in fundraising letters. They are stewing in our guts when we wake up to get to work.
But how do we measure them? How do we know if our work leads to an increase in compassion, or unity, or creativity? How can we learn from our successes and failures and adapt our work to increase impact?
These are the questions that underpin Museum Camp 2014, a professional development experience in which diverse people from the arts, community activism, and social services will measure the immeasurable together. Our focus is on social impact in communities, and we will encourage teams to look at complex outcomes--like safety, cohesion, compassion, and identity--that are not commonly covered in our standard evaluative practices. We will do this by defining impacts of interest, identifying indicators of those impacts, developing creative ways to measure the indicators, actually doing the measurements, and reporting on the results. And we'll do this all in three days on July 30-August 2, 2014 in Santa Cruz, CA.
This is the second year that the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH) is hosting Museum Camp. Last year, the focus was on risk-taking in exhibition design. This year, the focus is social impact assessment. While the topics and the participants are entirely different, the core format is the same: three days, small teams of people from diverse backgrounds, intense learning, doing, and playing in a collaborative environment. It's summer camp for adults, 'smores included.
Because we at the MAH are not experts in this social impact assessment, we are working with smart researchers and evaluators from the arts, social services, academia, and social justice organizations to make this camp happen. We are co-presenting Museum Camp with Fractured Atlas, an organization that inspires me for their thoughtful approach to making art measurable and meaningful. Ian David Moss, Fractured Atlas's Research Director (and the rockstar behind the Createquity blog) and I are working together to develop the camp content and recruit brilliant counselors to support the process. This is the beginning of a couple partnerships between Fractured Atlas and the MAH, and I am PSYCHED to work with and learn from Ian and their crew. We also have some great counselors onboard from United Way, WolfBrown, and Animating Democracy@Americans for the Arts (and more to come).
If you are interested in applying to attend camp, please check out the site and fill out an application today. We will accept applications through February 28 and inform people of our selections in early March. Space is extremely limited, so I encourage you to apply soon.
We are particularly interested in applications from people who are NOT in the arts or museums. Last year, many campers felt that the best part of the experience was the diversity of people in the camp. The strength of our experience together is partly based on the opportunity to come together across different disciplines and perspectives, and we want to continue pushing for that. So please, spread the word--and if you have a friend who you think would love this, encourage them to apply.