I’d be lying if I said just being nominated was enough. We love winning a People’s Choice award. Sure, our egos puff up for a few minutes, there may be a couple of high-fives, and some congratulatory emails from our esteemed board members—and that all feels good. Really good. But the truth is, there’s tremendous personal satisfaction across the organization when we are recognized by the voting public. Those of you who have been coming to Grounds For Sculpture for years know that this place was once “a hidden gem” and a “best-kept secret.” And that was wonderful; it was quieter, a place for solace and reflection – but it also meant that the organization wasn’t self-sustaining. We have worked diligently to raise our public profile, to attract a wider range of guests, to welcome people of all ages, abilities and walks of life. We have stretched and grown our own definitions of accessibility. Our work has not only been in envisioning a GFS of the future; it has also focused on what we can do now—in this moment—to make a positive difference. Whether that is through the enjoyment of art situated against the backdrop of nature, or from a docent whose enthusiasm for this place is contagious, a guest with low or no vision experiencing artwork during a “touch tour,” or a commemorative bench in a location rich with memories, GFS holds a special place of significance for many of our visitors.
We continue to break attendance records. We continue to find ways to improve the guest experience. We reflect on what can be refined, and how we can do better. We seek out feedback and never say, “Good enough.” There is no resting on our laurels. There is too much work to be done. We consider ourselves fortunate to have a dedicated family of members, volunteers and guests. We cherish each time we hear from a visitor how much they love GFS, or the difference it has made in their life. That is meaningful. And it’s the pulse that drives everything we do. In past years, when we have received a People’s Choice Award, the power of that collective voice—the popular vote—helps to validate how far we’ve come. It is tangible evidence that the arts, and this work, matter. It is confirmation that we as a staff are on the right path. And it feels really, really good.