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Kelli Strickland: Building Creative Communities

Elevator pitch

7 in 10 Americans agree that arts and culture improve the image and identity of their communities. So why is robust community cultural planning so flippin’ hard? And why should we keep trying to do it anyway?


The arts and cultural planning process assesses the current community culture and creates an implementation plan to achieve a community’s vision. Arts and Cultural plans act as mirrors for a community—they are, ideally, a reflection of the community’s that they serve. Many communities are engaged in arts and cultural planning to help address the needs and opportunities of the community members by assessing and utilizing the arts and cultural resources available. Some arts and cultural planning may be narrowly focused on the needs of artists, arts organizations, and audiences; however, cultural planners are increasingly considering the role of culture in resolving broader community issues. The most successful cultural plans address the needs and desires of the community throughout the planning process, from the initial stages to the implementation of cultural programming and development. What does Cultural Planning look like for our region?


Kelli Strickland is an arts leader, educator and actor with a solid track record in partnership building across sectors, arts advocacy, community engagement programming and arts education. She currently serves as the Executive and Artistic Director of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. She is a proud member of the international cohort of the CEO program at National Arts Strategies, “a 50-member body of leaders who are pushing forward along new paths, tackling the big questions facing their communities and the field in order to create change.” In 2013, she completed the Fellowship for Arts Management at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, DC. In addition to her work in the arts not for profit sector, Strickland was on faculty at Loyola University Chicago in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts for eighteen years and is a Jeff nominated actress. She currently sits on the board of directors for Raven Theatre and The Yard and has served on the board of directors for the League of Chicago Theatres. She is the chairperson of the Green Bay Public Arts Commission. Her writing has appeared in American Theatre Magazine, Theatre History Studies, Performink and she is a frequent panelist on the topics of Women in the Arts, Millennial Audiences, Capacity Building and Community Engagement. You can hear Kelli chat with arts and culture makers in Northeast Wisconsin on her podcast Bird In The Wings.

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