Strategic Visioning

For over 40-years, The Wooster Group (TWG) has remained one of the most influential creators of experimental theater and practice. TWG’s current shows continue to advance the craft, reorient and delight audiences, and generate international commissions. In partnership with founder Liz LeCompte, original member Kate Valk, and decades-long member and producer Cynthia Hedstrom, Shapiro has helped advance TWG’s considering of strategic pathways for sustaining the troupe’s artistic legacy and ongoing impact.

Strategic Planning

CuSP partnered with the Neuberger Museum of Art to develop a strategic plan leading up to the Museum’s fiftieth anniversary. As the main arts campus in the State University of New York system, Purchase College has long recognized the Museum as core to the campus mission. The new plan leverages that special relationship, expanding how the Neuberger influences pedagogy and education, as well how it can foster mutual benefit and learning across the broader campus and regional environment.

Strategic Planning

The Hood, continuing its longstanding discipline for strategic planning, engaged Tom Shapiro to guide its latest process, including a fresh take on mission, vision, and strategic objectives. The initial focus was on the opportunities emerging from the recently opened Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects-designed expansion. The onset of the 2020 Covid pandemic, however, pivoted the process to an all-virtual approach and the imperative toward reinforcing the Museum’s commitment to privileging art and people, particularly through meaningful engagement with the students and myriad stakeholders in the Hood’s educational, cultural, and civic ecosystem.

Strategic Planning

CuSP is helping guide the visioning and strategic direction of a new institute and museum at University of California Irvine, slated to open in three to five years. This includes developing the organization’s overarching purpose, objectives and ambitions, as well contributing to the inaugural 5-year operations plan. CuSP led a series of expert convenings via Zoom exploring the range of definitions and meanings of California Art as a category, and is heading the development of a platform for sharing California Art collections at museums throughout the state.

Strategic Planning

CuSP led the development of the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami’s inaugural strategic plan, leading up to the opening of the museum’s first permanent home in the Design District. The ICA Miami has quickly become an important contributor to the region’s diverse and growing cultural ecosystem. With a focus on innovative and experimental approaches to the making, exhibiting, and interpretation of art, the museum provides free admission to all visitors.

Strategic Planning

In 2016 the Speed Art Museum reopened after building a wHY architecture-designed expansion that doubled the size of this 90-year old Kentucky institution. As the museum approached the new building’s first anniversary, Speed leadership engaged CuSP to help craft a plan that aligns ambitions, capacity, and understanding of how the bold and elegant new building will serve audiences. Thinking of itself dually as the region’s venerable cultural cornerstone and as a start-up, the team focused on expanding its community relevance and on holistic, cross-departmental operational approaches.

Strategic Planning

2019 CuSP led senior management and the board in updating the Museum’s mission and strategic plan. The 2013 plan set an imperative for expanding the Museum at Navy Pier. This new plan evolved to an imperative for audience and civic engagement. We aligned internal passions with external conditions and audience needs to develop a plan that brings Museum resolve to the issues of access, diversity, inclusion, and equity.

2013 CuSP worked with senior leadership to develop a 3- to 5-year strategic plan to prepare the museum for the opening of its expanded space on Navy Pier. Key efforts included defining the central purpose and vision to guide the museum’s initiatives and investments, implementing a portfolio of diversified revenue streams, and streamlining activities and programming to heighten the overall impact of the organization.

Membership and Admissions Financial Modeling
CuSP created a multivariate financial model to help assess the expected financial and attendance impact of various pricing and membership options. The model contributed to a pro forma for what became one of the museum’s most successful membership offerings and revenue- and attendance-growing price changes.

Earned Revenue Programs
CuSP led a Board task force to generate a prioritized list of 1-3 year earned revenue opportunities. Using mini-business cases and formalized assessment criteria, the task force identified three projects with highest-likelihood of positive financial results, limited impact on operations, and strong alignment with Museum mission.

Strategic Vision and Focus

CuSP facilitated the strategic focusing process for the Phoenix Art Museum. The Museum had recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and the opening of a major building expansion. As part of setting a strategic course for the next five years, CuSP helped senior leadership and the Board re-craft their Mission, Vision and strategic ambitions.

Meeting facilitation

IPCH is among the world’s most influential resources and advocates for cultural preservation and conservation. As part of its internal work to better align its organizational structure to meet the needs of both the Yale community and the international heritage field, IPCH engaged Tom Shapiro to facilitate a mid-pandemic, virtual visioning workshop for 35 staff and stakeholders. He created the conditions and tools for every person to be heard, thereby generating both essential input for and buy-in to the resulting reorganization.

Performance Measurement

CuSP developed a comprehensive set of quantitative measures to help assess the Contemporary Jewish Museum’s performance overall and at department levels. The matrix of measures includes traditional ROI metrics and tools that delve into and embrace more audience-impact and mission-oriented achievement.

Strategic Marketing Plan and Organizational Ambition

CuSP contributed to a high-level strategic marketing plan to help senior leadership focus on the right audiences, the right messages, and the right mission in advance of opening a $60 million Daniel Libeskind-designed museum June 2008.

Strategic Planning

CuSP lead the development of SFAEP’s 2007-2012 strategic plan and 2009 plan update. SFAEP is a 50-year old leader of after-school, weekend, and summer arts education programming, working with over 6,000 K-12 students each year.

Museum Charter

CuSP facilitated the development of this organization’s founding Mission, Vision and Values. The Chandler Holocaust and Tolerance Museum, under development at the East Valley JCC in Chandler, AZ was set to be the region’s only Holocaust museum and was committed to combatting communal indifference and promoting individual engagement as defense against future genocides.

Strategic Visioning

With its 20th anniversary approaching, the Tang engaged CuSP to facilitate staff and constituent gatherings and conduct research that revealed opportunities for the museum’s continuing leadership in the field. This included group and individual interviews with over 100 stakeholders and peers. The output will be a publication of the Tang’s ambitions for next 20 years and core initiatives for the next few years. There will also be a summary of the museum’s role as an integral aspect of the Skidmore education and ecosystem.

Strategic Planning

CuSP partnered with the Colorado State University Art Museum to develop a strategic plan to guide its then-upcoming building expansion. The project focused on the transition from the Museum’s current to future capacity and ambition, as well as its evolving role as a region-wide resource. As part of a land-grant school, the Museum shares the dual obligation to serve CSU students as well as all Colorado residents.

Strategic Planning

CuSP helped the Gund Gallery develop its first strategic plan following the 2011 opening of its $20 million resource at Kenyon College. The plan defined and focused the Gund’s role, highlighting its contribution to the Kenyon student experience, learning, and acquisition of 21st Century skills. The College president hired Shapiro to ensure the work aligned with the concurrent campus strategic planning effort and maximized the Museum’s impact on curriculum and the broader Kenyon community.

Strategic Planning

Wellesley College’s art museum traces its origins to 1889 making it among the oldest academic museums in the country. Given the museum- and academia-rich Boston region, the emerging strategic plan will refine and strengthen the Davis’ roles both on and off campus, and in particular will align its contributions to the College’s overall strategic ambitions.

Strategic Retreat and Guidance

CuSP facilitated a board retreat to explore key areas of opportunity and investment for the Rhode Island School of Design Museum (RISD Museum). It was preceded by a series of 3 internally led sessions, each with a different handful of board members, to build alignment and establish a shared understanding of the Museum’s current environment. The retreat further cemented board and senior staff’s commitment and set the path for strategic planning and decision making.

Best Practices

CuSP worked with the University of Iowa Museum of Art Envisioning Committee, chartered by University President, to develop a best practices-based vision for a new museum to replace the structure damaged by 2008 flooding. Shapiro also presented at a public forum at the Old Capital building.

Program Structure and Facilitation

CuSP helped Foundation leadership solidify the concept for their inaugural Art Design Chicago program initiative. He facilitated multiple content ideas sessions for dozens of regional arts organizations and program participants. The first edition of the program ultimately brought together over 95 partner organizations and 2.5 million visitors. Shapiro will continue to serve as an advisor to Terra leadership and as a member of the program’s Advisory Team.

Northeast Small College Art Museum Association

Peer Data Survey

Ongoing since 2014 CuSP has developed and managed a data survey tool and reports for the Northeast Small College Art Museum Association (NESCAMA). Comprised of over 1,800 data points updated annually, the information contributes to management decision-making and is invaluable to helping funders and advocates better understand their campus museum’s relative resources and performance. 2020 museum participants include: Amherst, Bowdoin, Brandeis, Colby, Colgate, Dartmouth, Hamilton, Middlebury, Mt. Holyoke, Skidmore, Smith, Tufts, Vassar, Wellesley, Wesleyan, and Williams.

Management Service Partnership

For virtually its entire 40-year history, the AAMG had been a volunteer-run organization. Shapiro helped the board determine that this structure was self-limiting, preventing the professional association from enrolling and representing a much larger portion of the academic museum field. Shapiro also helped the organization develop the process for assessing potential professional management options.

Strategic Framework and Pricing

CuSP oversaw the development of AAMG’s 2017-19 strategic framework. Shapiro’s close collaboration with the board helped focus the decision-making, resources, and desired outcomes for this all-volunteer organization. By conducting a thorough review of peer membership and conference pricing and the AAMG’s own financial model, Shapiro developed a fresh price structure that reinforces the Association’s affordability, value, and sustainability.

Business Case

CuSP worked with the Association president to develop a streamlined business case to accompany the organization’s 2013 strategic plan. “Stress testing” challenged proposed sources and uses of funds, assessing the inherent risks and crafting necessary contingencies. By aligning the strategic plan and business case, the AAMG was able to evaluate potential weaknesses in its programmatic, operational or infrastructure investments.

CSAA (AAA for California, Utah and Nevada)


Tom Shapiro led the development of a new pricing strategy for the California Automobile Association, a 4.3 million member chapter of AAA. Shapiro also designed a new tier of membership which became one of the organization’s best-performing new offerings. Quantitative research underpinned the analysis.

Helping cultural organizations define and reach their goals and engage audiences

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