This strategic plan represents a new chapter for the Sonoma Community Center. In honor of our 70th birthday, the plan expresses our commitment to building and nurturing a diverse, inclusive community on our campus and beyond. In celebration of all that we’ve done over the past seven decades, and in recognition of the responsibility we hold as Sonoma’s only real community center, this plan sets out to establish the Center as a shared resource, and a place of belonging, support, and engagement for Sonoma valley residents from all walks of life.
The past few years have been rife with uncertainty and upheaval – but also with reflection and resolve. As the pandemic, consecutive wildfires, and the increasing cost of housing exposed entrenched structural inequities, a lot of us learned important lessons about what we all need to feel stable, secure, and fulfilled, and about what makes or breaks a strong community; and we committed to taking better care of one another.
As your Community Center, we’ve taken these lessons to heart – and we believe we have a role to play in healing and strengthening our community. That’s why we’ve started on this journey to redefine our place within the Sonoma Valley, and to think in new ways about how we can serve you best.
Don’t worry, this won’t be a radical transformation! This Strategic Plan represents a new chapter for the Center, but not a radical departure. What we’re really doing is recommitting to the goals that have driven this Center since it opened in 1952. We’re simply making them a little more explicit, and we’re exploring new ways to bring them to life.
Since its founding, the purpose of the Sonoma Community Center has been to build community by offering opportunities for our neighbors to connect, learn, and grow – together. Driven by this goal, our promise to the Sonoma Valley community today is to create a Center of Belonging on our campus – and this strategic plan is our roadmap to getting there. We envision a campus where people of all ages, races, gender identities, sexual orientations, language backgrounds, artistic talents, income levels, interests, and more feel not just welcome, but at home. A place where everyone finds something to suit their needs. To that end, this plan outlines strategies that will help us build sustainable systems, lower access barriers, establish authentic and engaged relationships with our community, and develop community-responsive programs.
Cultivate a vibrant community through extraordinary creative, cultural, and learning experiences
Be THE CENTER for diverse communities to connect, create, and thrive through world-class programming and experiences
- Community: Build a vital community resource through creativity and multicultural individual and shared experiences.
- Innovation: Adapt continually to changing conditions, opportunities, and needs of the community.
- Creativity: Deliver opportunities for exploration and expression through art and culture valued by the community.
- Inclusion: Foster a welcoming environment for quality programs and services that support equity, diversity, and accessibility.
- Leadership: Cultivate effective leaders and create collaborations for positive community impact.
Strategic Priority 1 – Governance
Grow the capacity and diversity of the Board. Support organizational efficiency and success through strong governance practices and policies.
- Strengthen the Board recruitment process and ensure effective retention systems
- Identify and implement an annual Board education and training program
- Develop and implement a Board performance review system with Board and member self-evaluation
- Establish standard expectations for Board member participation and contributions to the organization
- Review and revise Board governance systems, policies, and manuals
- Ensure the Executive Director is fully supported and provided feedback by the Board
- Ensure that the strategic plan is monitored, implemented, and updated as a living plan
- Ensure the maintenance of effective financial oversight
Through these goals, our main objective is to build a Board of Directors whose strength derives from robust policies and systems, a diversity of backgrounds and identities, and active engagement with the organization.
Strategic Priority 2 – Resource Development
Ensure stable funding and management of resources to support our mission and vision.
- Increase revenue and diversify funding sources to underwrite the cost of programming
- Build an endowed fund through a robust legacy giving program to build long-term sustainability and support the preservation of our historic building
- Strengthen current database utilization to streamline administrative systems and processes
- Identify and develop strategic partnerships with other organizations and agencies to bring more value to the Sonoma Valley
- Create and maintain a robust membership program as a way to engage the community and build a sense of collective ownership for the Center’s programs
Our main objective under priority 2 is to safeguard the sustainability of the organization in a way that honors our five guiding values. Our fundraising is driven by a commitment to lowering the cost of participating in our programs.
Strategic Priority 3 – Programs
Create a variety of quality programming and events that are welcoming, diverse, and inclusive.
- Offer programs that meet community needs
- Increase attendance, reach, and revenue from programming
- Build our programming to be inclusive, welcoming, and culturally diverse
- Create playbooks for each program department
These goals work towards our main objective of developing programming on the basis of continual input from the community; offering classes and events that represent and celebrate the variety of cultural identities present in the Sonoma Valley; and ensuring that our programs are affordable and accessible to people from all walks of life.
Strategic Priority 4: Marketing and Communications
Build recognition, engagement, and affinity for the Center’s mission and vision.
- Create a comprehensive and strategic marketing and communications plan
- Build visibility and reputation of the organization
- Rebrand to support growth and honor our legacy
- Identify and utilize data to evaluate and assess the impacts of the marketing and communications plans
Our objective is to build a new marketing department and strategy that embodies our organizational values, builds authentic relationships with everyone in the Sonoma Valley, and connects more people with the power of the arts.
Strategic Priority 5: Operations
Ensure the long-term viability and effective functionality of the Sonoma Community Center and our historic facility
- Ensure the historical preservation and modernization of our building and capital improvements
- Implement comprehensive property management and maintenance system
- Based upon other priorities identified in the strategic plan, ensure a staffing plan is developed, evaluated, and implemented
- Strengthen administrative services and decision-making processes through data analysis and evaluation
This strategic plan aims to safeguard the long-term viability of our historic building and organization by creating capacity to keep up with building improvements and establishing strong organizational management systems.
What’s Already Been Done?
This plan was adopted in March 2021, and since then we’ve been hard at work to lay the groundwork for accomplishing our goals.
To create accountability around our commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, we have begun working with an Arts & Equity Consultant. Together, we’ve been auditing our existing processes and operations, and have started adapting them – or building new ones – to center equity. Our staff and Board have participated in several DEI-focused trainings, and we’ve increased the diversity of our staff. We are working to lower access barriers to our programs: we now offer several classes in Spanish, and are proud to launch a sliding scale fee structure for all classes starting on July 1, 2022.
We’ve established a new Marketing department that prioritizes two-way communication with our community, and have hired dedicated bilingual community engagement staff who are working to build authentic relationships with communities across the valley. We’ve successfully increased our fundraising and grant writing so that we can underwrite the cost of our programs, which in turn allows us to lower our participation fees and award more scholarships.
We’ve built a new program development model that’s based on principles of inclusion and stated community needs, and we’ve strengthened our Governance systems, laying the groundwork for building a Board that represents a diversity of identities, backgrounds, skills, and experiences.
The work continues; we invite you to follow us on our journey, and help keep us accountable to our community.