Four Year Strategic Plan 20162019 STRATEGIC PLAN AT A GLANCE In 2015, the Chicago Fringe Festival produced its sixth festival under the leadership of its third Executive Director, Anne Cauley. Since its founding, CFF has remained true to its core tenets selecting shows through an unjuried system, returning 100% of the ticket sales to the artists and producing the festival in an artistically underserved neighborhood (Pilsen for the first three festivals and then Jefferson Park for the following three). To date, CFF has returned $172,483.54 to artists, averaging $28,747 per year. An average of 4,000 seats have been filled at each festival. The staff has been comprised entirely of volunteers, with small stipends offered since the third festival. This strategic planning process was launched in the winter of 2014 with the intention of exploring how CFF could grow and improve now that it has a proven track record of consistently and successfully producing an annual festival. Through this process we imagined what CFF could be for its 10th anniversary. This plan does not answer all of our questions. Rather it establishes a plan through which to answer those questions.
Arts organization with an annual budget of about $100,000, whose primary programs consist of the annual Chicago Fringe Festival which returns about $30,000 each year and draws about 2,000 attendees buying 4,000 tickets
A dynamic organization with yearround programming, including the annual summer Fringe Festival with an annual attendance of 4,000 individual attendees
Dedicated to fulfilling its mission to bring the arts to an artistically underserved neighborhood Jefferson Park
Have a clear understanding of what neighborhood means to CFF and a straightforward plan on where CFF should be, how it should engage with its neighborhood and assess its effectiveness
Governed by a passionate, but relatively small Board of Directors and produced by a small but mighty allvolunteer staff
Governed by a dynamic board of directors, with the tools needed to be effective stewards and fundraisers; Staff has been restructured in order to effectively achieve the goals of CFF
Supported by a core group of individual and institutional donors who make an annual contribution to CFF
Receiving contributions from an increased pool of donors that includes individuals, local and national corporations, foundations and government organizations that make significant investments in CFF
Serve a diverse population of artists and audiences from Chicago, surrounding areas and beyond
Continue to foster and build an even wider and diverse audience and artist community by providing more opportunities
PROCESS: SWOT Analysis: On Sunday, April 12, 2015, the staff and board came together for a half day discussion of our SWOT Analysis and Five Year Dreams. With Brian Loevner, an Advisory Board member, we identified key questions to explore over the next year. Jeffersonian Dinner: On Friday, June 26th, 2015, we hosted a dinner and discussion with a core group of supporters. This discussion helped to kickstart our discussions with the public about what makes a festival iconic, what is currently preventing people from coming, what CFF’s relationship with its neighborhood should be, etc. Town Halls: On Tuesday, July 28th (Victory Gardens Theatre), Saturday, Sept. 12th (the Congregational Church in Jeff Park) and Monday, Sept. 24th, 2015 (Simone’s in Pilsen), we hosted a series of town hall discussions that were open to the public. Board and Staff Retreat: On Saturday, Jan. 8th, the CFF staff and board came together to discuss the results of the public discussions and create this plan.
THE PLAN: AUDIENCE GROWTH & ENRICHMENT Present Position: CFF consistently draws about 2,000 patrons each year, filling around 4,000 seats. No substantial growth has occurred over the first six festivals in the number of patrons. However, patrons have begun to increasingly see more than a single show, indicating a growing interest in the festival itself rather than to just one specific show, topic or performing group. The following goals will help to improve the festival experience and grow the audience base. Goal 1: Double the Number of Festival Buttons Sold To Be Completed Sept 2019 Goal 2: Define / Develop Fringe Central To Be Completed Sept 2017 Goal 3: Develop Audience Engagement Strategy To Be Completed Sept 2019
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT Present Position: Currently CFF produces the annual Chicago Fringe Festival and has begun to host some “offseason” events as well, including Volunteer Get Togethers, Artist and Festival Networking, etc. But there has been a lack of clarity on CFF’s role as a yearround presence. The following goals will help to increase awareness in the broader Chicago community as to what Fringe is and what its role is throughout the year. Goal 1: Develop Marketing Awareness Campaign (What is Fringe?) To Be Completed Sept 2017 Goal 2: Develop a Plan to Become a Resource For Chicago Performing Arts Community To Be Completed Sept 2019 Goal 3: Develop a Plan for YearRound Presence To Be Completed Sept 2019
NEIGHBORHOOD Present Position: In its original mission statement, CFF stated an intention to serve artistically underserved neighborhoods. To date, that had meant Pilsen and Jefferson Park. Founders also envisioned a Festival that would move regularly to serve the broader community of Chicago. However, through the move to Jefferson Park, we all came to appreciate how difficult it is to identify new neighborhoods, build the needed relationships and neighborhood buyin, introduce the concept of Fringe to residents and have a real impact on the neighborhood itself. There also is a lack of clarity as to the desired results. What benchmarks can CFF use to assess our impact on the neighborhood? The following goals will help to define what neighborhood means to Fringe and what the next steps will be. Goal 1: Define What “Neighborhood” Means to Fringe To Be Completed Sept 2016 Goal 2: Create Staff/Board Neighborhood Task Force To Be Completed December 2016
INSTITUTIONAL PRIORITIES Present Position: To date, CFF has grown responsibly and thoughtfully, ending each year in the black and setting reasonable goals. We have made tremendous progress over the past six years, improving the festival experience for artists, patrons, volunteers, interns and staff. However, we have relied on the passions of our staff to a fault. The following goals will help CFF to become more sustainable. Goal 1: Develop Plan to Grow & Increase Contributed and Earned Income To Be Completed April 2017 Goal 2: Decide About Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals Membership To Be Completed July 2016 Goal 3: Develop Staffing Structure To Be Completed Ongoing Goal 4: Revamp the Mission Statement To Be Completed Sept. 2016