Our adaptive challenge
Because sustainability for media arts organizations, and the field, requires the emergence of visionaries who can innovate and challenge dominant aesthetics and forms, Global Action Project (GAP) will design and implement pathways to leadership for and by young people that generates a more responsive, nimble, and youth-driven organization that can meet the needs of communities whose stories must be told.
Why it is important that our organization address this challenge, and why now?
GAP is in a moment of organizational transition (i.e., reconfiguring our leadership structure to a co-director model) and beginning a process of creating a new strategic plan. We have also generated much momentum around this issue, having hosted a youth retreat last year focused on the subject and created an intergenerational committee, called The Take Over!, charged with visiting other youth-led organizations to examine their leadership models and make recommendations. These activities support our a holistic approach to sustainability: we consider not just the financial side but the dynamism, strength, and diversity of our leadership, including the degree to which it reflects the communities we serve.
What are the foundational assumptions that have reliably predicted success in the past that we are now questioning?
It has been our working assumption that young people can, and should, step into leadership roles within GAP beyond their creative participation in programs, and that doing so strengthens our organizational culture, ensures relevance of the art form to the next generation, and creates a pipeline for youth to move into staff and educator positions, for example. We have experimented with this in many ways over the years, but have relied on it being an organic process.
What is the evidence that is causing us to question our assumptions?
While our core belief that youth should move into organizational decision-making roles is still central, and affirmed by retreats and dialogue with youth who want to take on more responsibilities and leadership, our assumptions about what the process is has shifted. We must address youth governance as a culture-building strategy that is structured to make participation meaningful and sustainable. For example, it must intentionally include all stakeholders — current youth, alumni, board and staff — in honest conversations about what it takes to foster an authentic process that, by design, has us making decisions together in our practice as media-makers and leaders.
What are the bold new directions we are imagining for our organization?
As we continue to strengthen our social justice framework and partnerships, we know that having youth participants function with more power and responsibility within GAP will allow us to create programming that maintains relevance, enhances community impact, formalizes a leadership pipeline, and expands our grassroots fundraising efforts in new ways. Our goal is to fundamentally change the way that youth relate to GAP so that we are able to thrive with our values in action: we seek a radical reimagining of the central role that youth can play in the future of the organization and in modeling possibilities for the field.
Our vision of success
Global Action Project’s vision of success is a thriving, creative community of youth leaders who make vibrant media for change, and who are the driving force and future of the organization. This includes the implementation of a dynamic cohort of youth who are tasked with evolving our organizational sustainability through their participation in all levels of decision-making within GAP — from creative programming to community-driven fundraising strategies to strategic visioning.