APRIL 1, 2022 — Editor’s note: The following message was sent today via email from ITC Steering Committee Co-Chairs Sabrina Casas-Avila and Carlos Martinez:
Thank you for your ongoing support of UTSA’s Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC), an institute that gives voices to the unique experiences of people and their cultures throughout Texas. As we look ahead to the next 50 years of the ITC under our ITC Centennial 2068 Community Stakeholder Visioning effort, we remain fully committed to preserving and promoting the ITC’s tremendous assets while making the experience even more accessible and compelling for the community, so future generations of Texans can take in its rich cultural tapestry for decades to come.
We write to provide an update, share process and timelines, and draw your attention to the resources and reports that are informing the work in the last leg of the visioning process by the Steering Committee—comprised of subject matter experts, educators, local business owners, and community leaders. As their work progresses, it is important the community knows that its perspectives and ideas are immensely valued and can still be considered and incorporated at any point in the ongoing visioning process.
ITC Centennial 2068 Community Stakeholder Visioning Process & Timeline
In 2021, the university embarked on a robust ITC Centennial 2068 visioning and community engagement process to envision the next 50 years of the ITC, the only resource in Texas entirely devoted to our state’s rich cultural heritage. To ensure the visioning process was informed by voices throughout the community, stakeholders from across San Antonio were invited to participate in task forces and a steering committee to ground the work in various points of view and experiences. Museum, development, and land use experts were also engaged to inform the work of each of the three organized groups.
In April / May 2021, three Task Forces—one for each topical area of interest for the ITC—and Steering Committee membership were announced and launched in June 2021. UTSA also engaged Lopez Negrete Communications (LNC) to facilitate the community engagement process, which included four expert panels, the development of the Strategic Value and Ease of Execution criteria and weights, and the community survey. In August / September 2021, the Task Forces and Steering Committee convened for the first time and held community conversations, which will continue through the end of the visioning process. At that time, the Task Forces completed the ideation phase with LNC and moved into the next phase of preparing final recommendations for the Steering Committee. In January / February 2022, Task Forces submitted their recommendation reports and invited further community conversation via survey.
The Steering Committee is actively meeting and collaborating with experts and partners to share ideas on how to synthesize the recommendations of the Task Forces—while continuing to incorporate community feedback and expert resources—to develop feasible scenarios for the future of the ITC to present to UTSA leadership in early summer.
Community Engagement & Feedback
From the onset of the visioning process, UTSA prioritized engaging a diverse, experienced group of community leaders and stakeholders to serve on the task forces and steering committee. The ITC serves our community in so many ways— educating, informing, and celebrating the rich cultural mosaic of our state that continues to change and evolve dynamically with new generations of Texans—and the voices of every San Antonian matter as we work to build a museum of the future. At various points in the visioning process, UTSA widely issued invitations to get involved through community surveys to capture feedback that would then be incorporated into the visioning process and work of each of the organized groups.
Results from the first two surveys can be found on the ITC visioning website. A third opportunity for feedback will be conducted in the coming months to cap off the work by the Steering Committee.
Task Force Membership & Leadership
The Task Forces, composed of various community leaders with diverse expertise, were asked to draw upon individual backgrounds and experiences to develop a set of recommendations that address the ITC Centennial 2068 questions in the following focus areas: Museum of the Future, Community Engagement and Sustaining Support, and Facility and Land Stewardship. Of note, each Task Force included experts from across various industries to ensure rich and diverse collaboration and discussion.
Task Force membership can be found on the ITC Visioning website:
Task Force reports can be found on the ITC Visioning website:
Expert Resources & Guidance
To complement the input of community members, UTSA also engaged a broad group of subject matter experts to serve as a resource to the Task Forces. These expert sources contributed to the conversations and broadened the perspectives that informed the visioning process for the Task Forces and continue to help guide the Steering Committee.
One such resource is the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Advisory Services Panel, a group of independent national experts that were engaged to examine placemaking and stewardship of the museum’s Hemisfair site. ULI is recognized as one of North America's most respected and widely quoted sources of objective information on urban planning, growth, and development. ULI was recently, and notably, engaged with the local Hemisfair Visioning process as an expert resource to guide the site’s ongoing development, and in similar projects across the US.
Once engaged with UTSA, and based on previous experiences with local entities, ULI’s panel interviewed a variety of community members to immerse themselves in the local perspectives of what the museum currently means to residents and what it could ultimately become. ULI’s partnership and report on key areas of consideration for the future of the ITC resulted in expansive insight for both the Task Forces and Steering Committee to consider while ideating around what the ITC of the future could be.
The ULI report, paired with other expert resources like an accreditation assessment by museum planning consultant Marcy Goodwin, has helped, and will continue to help, inform the broader visioning process. Notably, Marcy Goodwin’s museum planning consulting team first developed an accreditation assessment in 2010, and her most recent assessment builds on her ongoing research on the feasibility of the existing Texas Pavilion building meeting the American Alliance of Museum accreditation standards—the recognized standard of excellence in the United States. Additional expert reports utilized by the Task Forces and Steering Committee include: Assessment of the Potential to Relocate the Institute of Texan Cultures, prepared by B. Meyerson Consulting, LLC; Exhibition Master Plan, prepared by The Museum Practice; ITC Academic Assessment, prepared by Dr. Daniel Gelo, Dr. Mac West and Mr. Charlie Walter; and, ITC Assumptions by the ITC Advisory Council, chaired by Dr. G.P. Singh.
Furthermore, various industry partners, museum experts and business leaders from across the city, state and country have participated in and collaborated with the Task Forces and Steering Committee. Several such experts include Dr. Jude Valdez, retired Vice President for Community Services at UTSA, and Wellington “Duke” Reiter, FAIA architect and urban designer, and a Senior Adviser to the President at Arizona State University. Forthcoming presentations include participation from Kate Rogers, Executive Director of the Alamo Trust, Inc, and Marise McDermott, President/CEO of The Witte.
All expert reports, panel videos and other resources can be found on the ITC Visioning website.
Honoring the Past & Looking Ahead
The ITC’s history in San Antonio runs deep—in fact, many of us have vivid childhood memories exploring the facility and exhibits from our K-12 school years. The ITC’s profound impact on our city and state is appreciated, and our Steering Committee is committed to creating scenarios that not only respect the Institute’s past, but also create ways for the Institute to highlight the evolving cultures that continue to shape San Antonio and Texas.
We invite you to stay informed and engaged with the ITC Centennial 2068 Community Stakeholder Visioning Process as we continue to develop the ideas that will shape the scenarios that will be presented to UTSA’s leadership in the coming months. We encourage you to visit the ITC Centennial 2068 website to learn more, ask questions and submit feedback on the work that has been completed and on the work that is still in progress.
UTSA is steadfast in honoring the legacy of the ITC as well as successfully carrying the museum well into the future as a commitment to the community, city and state. We look forward to incorporating your feedback as we work to build a museum of the future of which we all can be very proud.
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