In our work with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA), we had the privilege of facilitating two distinct and impactful projects aimed at strengthening the professional community of PCA’s partner networks and enhancing connectivity across the state.

We facilitated a 3-part virtual Connection Cafe series that focused on each of the distinct portfolios within their network. In addition, we ran a 2-day virtual retreat and training for the partner organizations that they support.

“We had ideas but nothing concrete. Spud does a great job to organize those ideas and put thoughts into motion. Thanks to his help, we got the end result that we were hoping for and felt really proud of what we hosted. We would absolutely do it again!”

Jamie Dunlap
Chief of Creative Catalysts & Lifelong Learning, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts

Virtual Connection Cafes

We started by facilitating three virtual Connection Cafes, each designed to engage and showcase different PCA partner networks, including Arts in Education (AIE), Pennsylvania Partner in the Arts (PPA), and Folk and Traditional Arts.

Strengthening PA Communities: The first Connection Cafe focused on facilitating conversations around three key pillars of PCA: Strengthening PA Communities, Connecting and Increasing Access to Lifelong Learning, and Championing Public Awareness and Appreciation. Through guided discussions, participants explored these themes and shared ideas on how to enhance their impact in their communities.

Statewide Trivia Game: The second Connection Cafe featured a trivia game designed to foster team bonding and educate participants about the opportunities for arts engagement across the state. Participants answered trivia questions representing 14 different regions in the state, providing a fun and engaging way to learn about each other’s work and the diverse arts landscape of Pennsylvania. This activity not only enhanced participants’ knowledge but strengthened their connections as they worked together in teams.

Virtual Artist Meet-and-Greet: The third Connection Cafe offered a unique opportunity for participants to virtually meet folk artists from different regions. Participants could choose from various virtual rooms to visit artists who specialized in activities such as Indian dance, Pysanky egg decorating, and whistle carving. This session aimed to strengthen connections within the network while providing a platform for cultural exchange and learning.

A behind-the-scenes look at how we prepared attendees for the Connection Cafe series

Annual Gathering for Partner Organizations

The PCA’s annual gathering for partner organizations brought together approximately 50 representatives from various regional partner networks. We designed and facilitated a comprehensive training that fostered collaboration and provided participants with actionable tools and meaningful connections.

Day 1 // Pro-Action Cafe: The first day of the retreat featured a Pro-Action Cafe designed to explore collaborative initiatives and identify opportunities for increased cooperation among PCA partners. Prior to the retreat, we identified 10 key opportunities for collaboration that would enable attendees to lead better in their community. Participants rotated through three discussion rounds that ultimately identified common themes and next steps for the group to pursue together.

Day 2 // Community Organizing 101 Using the CANVAS Framework: The second day of the retreat focused on teaching participants the fundamentals of community organizing using the CANVAS Framework. Each participant received a Field Guide, and we conducted a comprehensive session on applying the framework to their work. We facilitated a Hot Seat discussion format that allowed participants to present and receive feedback on their collaboration ideas. Each Hot Seat had a different focus – including identifying key people and early adopters they should engage with, and specific prototypes they could develop and explore together.

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