by Flying Geese Consultant, Beckie Smith

Screen shot of Culture in Common website home page


Having worked with Skimstone Arts previously to conduct a Situational Analysis, we were delighted to develop this work into a strategic vision document which would lead the organisation through a period of transition until they were ready to develop a new business plan.

Skimstone Arts is a dynamic and inclusive arts organisation based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in North East England. Its mission is to support diverse artists, people and communities at risk of social isolation to create work with, for and about the world that matters to them.

What did we do?

We kick started our strategic planning work with Skimstone Arts with a board and management away day where we facilitated a number of sessions that culminated in the team co-creating a new vision and mission for the organisation.   We also facilitated activity that encouraged the team to review their current business and trading models. We progressed to exploring what future models might look like and the appropriateness of each one.

Before we started developing strategic goals for Skimstone, we conducted audience research using audience surveys within our evaluation work  together with an area profile report from Audience Agency to understand the composition of the Yorkshire audience and key segments within it.

We overlaid this internal and external research to identify three key target audiences for Skimstone Arts based on current market acquisition (current audiences), future market growth potential (future audiences) and the balance between the Skimstone Arts priorities of income generation and community development.

Then, we brought the team together for another away day, where we facilitated sessions that scoped strategic goals for the next three years.

These strategic goals led to the development of a number of audience focused development programmes. We ensured these programmes met the audience where they were at the time and nurtured them to grow in bravery and develop confidence in Skimstone.

We created programmes that catered for first time audiences, but also enabled existing audiences to develop their relationship so they engaged with a greater variety of work.

Key strategies that we developed included:

  • Core programme – taking forward the most successful and promising strands of existing activity, evolving them into something future proof.
  • Digital programme – using the latest examples of best practice, developing audiences so that those who choose not to visit you in person still become part of the key audiences.
  • Partnership programme – drawing from the stakeholder research, identifying key partners to collaborate with.
  • Community curated programme – using external market and stakeholder research to identify co-creation opportunities with community groups, giving local residents a sense of ownership, pride and shared investment in the organisation.
  • Let’s Create programme – developing a programme directly in line with Arts Council England’s Let’s Create strategy, that enabled communities to develop their creativity, become more deeply engaged with culture and see Skimstone Arts contribute to the creative and cultural progression of the country.

With the strategic goals, programme and offer now outlined we identify the resources needed to make each one a reality.

We later developed this work into a strategic business plan document which would guide Skimstone through a period of transition.

Legacy and Impact

Our strategic recommendations helped Skimstone to understand where they could make immediate changes to make the most of some quick win opportunities, as well as make some longer term considerations that would build on their strengths and take them to a resilient future. Longer term, our work paved a roadmap of strategic organisational development that aligned them with Arts Council England’s Let’s Create strategy, become more connected with its beneficiaries, and know that they had a resilient infrastructure supporting their journey.