Spotlight on Stantec & Suzuki Talent Education Program

Most arts groups/organizations have a lot on their plates. From practicing, producing and marketing their work, to meeting with board members and ensuring that their mandate is being carried out, there is often much to do and a limited amount of time and resources with which to do it. This is where the value of volunteerism comes in.

Young students with the Suzuki Talent Education Program take part in a musical parade.

Recently, one volunteer with the Business Volunteers for the Arts (BVA) program met with members of a local arts organization to talk the value of strategic planning – helping them determine where they want to go and how to get there.

Incorporated in 1982, the Suzuki Talent Education Program (STEP) is a non-profit music program (currently comprised of 14 faculty members and 114 students) that teaches music based on the method and philosophy of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki (the “Mother Tongue Approach”). The overall mission of STEP is to enrich lives through music.

Last month, Lee Shinkle, Regional Business Development Leader at Stantec St. John’s, met with STEP board members and several teachers to give them a better idea of what strategic planning is all about – information which proved to be quite valuable says Paul Bassler, Secretary of STEP.

A young cellist with STEP at practice.

“It clarified much of the mystique of the activity to our group and helped everyone appreciate the value of the process. He explained that strategic planning starts with the top level organizational mission, vision and values, and then cascades down to annual organizational objectives and tactics (marketing, sales and resource plans etc.) that can be measured and monitored for success over the course of the year,” Bassler explains.

In addition to basic strategic planning information, Shinkle also offered advice on how to conduct a strategy session and who should facilitate it, as well as the importance of subdividing and structuring activities in a way that’s manageable.

“He also emphasized that plans do not have to be rigid and more often than not will change over time; however, this should not discourage planning from taking place,” Bassler adds.

With this newfound knowledge at their disposal, Bassler says the group is better positioned to take a closer look at their mission and goals and how they will achieve them.

“STEP is eager to hold its own strategic planning session in the near future to refresh its mandate, motivate stakeholders, and find consensus on short-term and long-term organizational goals. We also hope it will focus our marketing, fundraising, and recruitment efforts with the limited resources available,” he says.

“The information from Lee has helped us understand what we as an organization need to do to make the strategy session a success and build on the momentum we gain from the process.”