Currently on view:
Meeting the Challenges Ahead
by Eric Holowacz, CEO
“Go at it boldly,” wrote Canadian spiritualist Basil King, “and you’ll find unexpected forces closing round you and coming to your aid.” In a way, that notion has been the ethic of The Studios of Key West ever since we launched this non-profit organization in late 2006. Before that arrival, there was a long process of dreaming, planning, researching, and gathering the island’s creative people and community leaders. The gestation period took many forms, involved dozens of people, and lasted more than a few years. But by late-2007, The Studios of Key West had a professional staff in place, a beautifully renovated campus, an expanded board, and the origins of a program now recognized as an exciting part of the Key West season. In five simple words: we went at it boldly.
From day one, my staff and I also flung open the Armory doors and invited anyone and everyone to experience our organization. We asked people to come inside and share their ideas with us. We listened to creative proposals, responded and nurtured them. And we welcomed friends and neighbors to help us build community. These early years were about discovery, exploration, and partnerships. They were about the great unknown entities and artistic efforts that would come to define us. The writer Robert Collier once put it this way: “You can do anything you think you can. This knowledge is literally the gift of the gods, for through it you can solve every human problem. It should make of you an incurable optimist. It is the open door.” With a nod to that sentiment, we propped open the Armory portal, and extraordinary new forces have been coming to visit ever since.
The Studios of Key West now stands at the threshold of its third and most ambitious season. The program and operational models are fully established, and our 2009/2010 workshops, exhibitions, and events are off to a great start. A full-color catalog just hit the streets, and the brand new tskw.org website is up and running. For our organization and its creative community, the discovery, exploration, and partnerships continue. But behind the scenes, the board of directors and staff have turned our attention to planning for the future.
In early 2007, The Studios of Key West had zero annual donors, no business sponsors, and one very significant operating grant from a local Foundation. That last commitment is over, but we’ve since grown our development efforts to include over 400 annual donors, a portfolio of managed local grant sources, 75 new business and corporate sponsors, and over 50 major donors we call our Patrons. All the while our organization’s fundraising strategy was fueled by one overriding notion: before asking anybody to support us, make sure what we do is exciting, interesting, creative, and important to people’s lives. Make sure that TSKW is following its bold strategic plan, delivering on its mission, and increasing its shared vision for a creative community.
More recently, our board, staff, and I have been working hard behind the scenes to develop a sustainable long-range plan. We’ve held strategy sessions, convened committees, investigated other models and pondered new ideas, all with the intention of keeping TSKW solid and growing. Heroic work has been done to ensure the future of The Studios of Key West.
Following my departure in mid-2010, after three years at the helm of the organization, the bold and fearless Jay Scott will assume leadership of staff and programming. He will continue extraordinary development efforts, galvanize our support base and creative community, and drive TSKW into the future. I have no doubt that exciting and interesting things will continue to happen under the Historic Armory roof.
As we all plan for 2011 and beyond, our organization promises to keep an open door to the community. In our mission to foster the arts and express the island’s cultural essence, we will continue to go at it boldly. But our next few years now request your presence, input, and help. So if you enjoy this latest creative season and feel inclined to come to the aid of The Studios of Key West, please remember us in your 2010 charitable giving. Simply contact any TSKW board member, me or my staff, or incoming executive director, Jay Scott, to learn about all of the ways you can help. With your support, we are sure that boldness, open doors, and unexpected forces will continue to see us through.