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Community helps shape vision for Institute of Texan Cultures

Community helps shape vision for Institute of Texan Cultures

DECEMBER 2, 2021 — Demonstrating a commitment to the vital role of public engagement to envision the future, The University of Texas at San Antonio announced the completion of the first round of public Community Conversations in its Institute of Texan Cultures Centennial 2068 Visioning Process.

Early this summer, UTSA launched the ITC Centennial 2068 Visioning Process, a robust community engagement process designed to provide current and future generations with a greater awareness of and appreciation for Texas’ unique cultural heritage. Focus areas include expanding the Institute of Texan Cultures’ research and storytelling through new programming, greater use of technology, and the exploration of topics at the intersection of culture and current events to engage Texans in every corner of the state across their lifespan.

The visioning process is grounded in the work of three task forces: “Museum of the Future,” Community Engagement and Sustaining Support, and Facility and Land Stewardship, with membership of each task force composed of diverse community leaders. The task forces — and the overall visioning process — are shepherded by a steering committee, also composed of community leaders. Each task force is supported by subject matter experts who are recognized for their accomplishments in their respective fields.

The “Museum of the Future” Task Force considers how the ITC can provide engaging and distinctive learning experiences for both visitors to the San Antonio facility and K–12 school children throughout the state to enable better understanding of the rich tapestry of Texan cultures, as well as new thinking about the future of Texas.

The Community Engagement and Sustaining Support Task Force focuses on how to deepen and broaden engagement to enhance the ITC’s impact as the only resource in Texas devoted entirely to the state’s cultural history.

The Facility and Land Stewardship Task Force considers how the ITC contributes to the vision of Hemisfair and the ongoing vitalization of downtown San Antonio and, further, how UTSA can leverage the ITC’s location to fully engage stakeholders and optimize benefit to both the community and the institute.

Since August, the task forces and steering committee have convened regularly. Building on UTSA’s broad commitment to community engagement, the visioning process includes multiple opportunities for public input and ideation.

To encourage community participation in envisioning the next 50 years of the ITC and its museum, UTSA invited nearly 800 individuals associated with the institute, local community and government leaders, donors, more than 120,000 UTSA alumni living in Texas, 3,800 UTSA faculty and staff, and all current students to participate in a survey for the first round of Community Conversations. The online survey was open from September 28 to October 10, 2021, in both English and Spanish, and community members had the option of visiting the UTSA Westside Community Center (1310 Guadalupe St.) to complete the questionnaire in person. The survey’s findings are now available on the ITC 2068 Visioning website.

The survey yielded more than 1,000 visits to the Community Conversations webpage and over 250 ideas were submitted by community members through the survey process. The ideas covered a wide range of topics and areas of interest that were grouped by facilitators Lopez Negrete Communications (LNC) into categories ranging from community events to child engagement with the majority of ideas intended to benefit all audiences.

Respondents to the survey represented a wide range of individuals including local ITC visitors, educators, parents, college students and more. Respondents’ ideas centered around consistent themes such as Texas, history, community and culture.

In advance of the launch of the first phase of community engagement, LNC worked with each task force to draft criteria to help aggregate ideas generated through the survey. The draft criteria were submitted to the Steering Committee, who refined and finalized the criteria for inclusion in the survey.

Within the survey, UTSA asked community participants to select the strategic values most important to them in guiding the ITC’s future. Notably:

  • 69% selected “Explores the story of Texas with inclusivity” as most important

  • 59% selected “Inspires with stories of relevance and connection” as most important

  • 54% selected “Provides a resource to the community for greater cultural understanding” as most important

LNC presented their findings from the community survey to the three ITC task forces who will use this information, as well as that from other expert resources, to develop recommendations regarding museum focus and activities, community engagement, sustainable support and land and facility stewardship to advance a vibrant future for the ITC. The recommendations from each task force will be presented to the steering committee in early spring 2022, providing another opportunity for public engagement and input at that time.

Following the development of feasible draft scenarios by the ITC Centennial 2068 steering committee, the community will have a final opportunity to provide feedback, which will help shape the development of the final scenario plans that will be presented to UTSA President Taylor Eighmy for consideration in May 2022.

Debra Del Toro

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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

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