Strategic Plan


Swallow Hill Music is poised for an exciting new chapter in its storied 44-year history.

We’ve completed a six-month process to develop a new strategic plan that charts a course for the next three years. We performed extensive community consultation, gathering perspectives from our staff, Board of Directors, external stakeholders, and over 1,200 community survey respondents.

The new plan acknowledges our historical strengths while challenging us to contemporize our offerings for a dynamic future.

Who We Are

A collage of three images. On the left, a woman with long hair in a dress holding a ukulele speaks into a microphone while giving a performance at Swallow Hill Music. In the middle, the five students in the Swallow Hill Bluegrass Band - four men with one woman in the middle - pose with their instruments, an acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, and dobro. On the right, a Latina toddler girl wearing a black shirt that says "Hear me roar" shakes a microphone during a Little Swallows class.

Effective strategic choices are rooted in a firm understanding of “who we are” as an organization and the ability to leverage unique or differentiating strengths.

To set our course, we analyzed our organizational identity and its unique attributes within its operating environment. Our Board of Directors affirmed the organization’s identity in June 2023.


To build community through music performance, education, and outreach


To be recognized as a community leader for accessible discovery and appreciation of music


Inclusion, Creativity, and Growth

What We Do

We provide music education and curate music experiences both within our walls and in community settings

Who We Serve

Music makers and music lovers; students of all ages; public schools and preschools

How We Pay for It

Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), concert ticket sales, music class tuition, grants, donor contributions, memberships, and retail sales

Where We Work

Seven-county metro Denver
areas and beyond

3 Strategic Priorities

Blues artist Sunny War, a black woman, holds an acoustic guitar and sings into a microphone during a concert at Swallow Hill Music, a nonprofit music venue in Denver.

Cultural Equity

Swallow Hill Music will use music to engage, incorporate, and showcase the diversity of the metro Denver community. This priority will be infused throughout all levels of the organization and, most specifically, the staff and board will focus on the following goals to ensure this priority receives appropriate resources.

Cultural Equity Goals:

  • Articulate a cultural equity statement
  • Establish a DEIA lens (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Access) as standard planning/review process
  • Diversify our board
  • Diversify our staff and volunteers
  • Diversify our vendors and partners
  • Expand range and variety of folk music offered (classes/concerts)
  • Create a Cultural Equity Council
    to inform our DEIA work
A photo of a crowd in the foreground watching a concert on the stage at Daniels Hall at Swallow Hill Music, with a black curtain behind a band and the words "Swallow Hill" projected upon the curtain.

Organizational Capacity

We recognize that a solid infrastructure is required to achieve all our strategic priorities. The following goals will provide the basis for a strong business model and organizational structure and will support strategic priorities around cultural equity and program/partnership development.

Organizational Capacity Goals:

  • Build Swallow Hill Music’s nonprofit brand through expanded marketing/promotion
  • Grow partnerships to leverage resources and expand access
  • Strengthen our business model by diversifying revenue streams, increasing sponsorship opportunities, and improving efficiencies
  • Investing in talent throughout the life cycle of each staff role
  • Develop cross-department collaborative pathways
  • Assess and invest in our use of technology throughout the organization
  • Repair, renovate and refresh building to deliver a safe, accessible, and professional experience for all while assessing long-term facility feasibility
A woman with short blonde hair and glasses smiles while playing the guitar and singing, seated on a floor with two preschoolers and their teacher at a Little Swallows music class presented by Swallow Hill Music in Denver.

Program and Partnership Development

Over the next three years, Swallow Hill Music will further refine its programs and partnerships to elevate the quality and diversity of music offerings, continue to grow its newest programs (Little Swallows and music therapy), and expand its role as a resource for artists and the cultural sector at large.

Program and Partnership Development Goals:

  • Create a robust program offering that supports students at all points of their musical learning journey
  • Build community partnerships that expand our programs, broaden Swallow Hill Music’s reach, and serve the diversity of the Denver Metro Region
  • Convene cultural sector conversations
  • Provide artist professional development resources
  • Ensure current and new programs meet strategic priorities

Our Progress

Building on our legacy and unique strengths, we are now focused on ensuring we can meaningfully welcome new audiences, partners, and cultures into all our programs. We are committed to the positive changes ahead that will ensure financial sustainability, augmented community awareness, and increased diversity of our staff, Board, and attendees.

As we implement this plan over the next three years, you can expect to see highlights of our progress in this section!

Frequently Asked Questions

What does "cultural equity" mean?

Cultural equity work strives to ensure that everyone, regardless of background, has access to and is represented in art, and is rooted in an acknowledgement that there are systemic and societal barriers that currently impede equal access. Here is a great definition from Americans from the Arts:

“Cultural equity embodies the values, policies, and practices that ensure that all people — including but not limited to those who have been historically underrepresented based on race/ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geography, citizenship status, or religion — are represented in the development of arts policy; the support of artists; the nurturing of accessible, thriving venues for expression; and the fair distribution of programmatic, financial, and informational resources.”

Like Swallow Hill, most major arts organizations in Colorado and across the country have articulated Cultural Equity Statements like we plan to, such as the SCFD, Boulder Arts Commission, Fund for the Arts, and the Mimbres Region Arts Council

How will Swallow Hill define "folk music?"

“Folk” means tradition, community, culture, folklore, rawness, simplicity, and often but not necessarily acoustic. At Swallow Hill, “folk music” will refer to an expansive, wide-ranging genre that encapsulates the beautiful meaning alluded to by all of these complex terms and ensures that all cultures are represented.

Since the rise of pop culture in the Post War Era, “Folk music” has become an ambiguous term. It’s been used to refer to anything from Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, to The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons, bluegrass, the blues, or traditional music from any non-American region of the world.

As part of this strategic plan, we will be establishing an organizational definition of “folk music” that encompasses much more than just music of the United States or the American singer-songwriters of the 20th century.

What does the term "organizational capacity" mean?

Essentially, this term means everything Swallow Hill needs “operationally” to deliver high-quality programming – the structural backbone of the organization. It includes ensuring we have adequate and highly qualified staff, a well networked board, a robust volunteer base, adequate financial resources, efficient and effective technology systems, and facilities that meet the codes, standards, and needs of all our activities. 

By developing and expanding our human, systems, and financial “capacity”, we increase our ability to proudly present quality programming to more people.

Will Swallow Hill renovate the building or find a new location?

Existing 2019 plans to fully renovate our Yale Ave property top $5 million. In 2024 we will conduct an extensive feasibility study to consider all options for Swallow Hill (renovate, relocate, build) with the goal of determining what is the most feasible and sustainable way to serve and accommodate our community, programs, and staff for decades to come.

Meanwhile, we must continue to maintain and make necessary updates and repairs to our current facility to ensure it is as safe, functional, and accessible for all. A decision will be made over the next 3 years, but it is highly unlikely anything (other than a capital campaign) would be started during this time. 

How can I help in these efforts?

We can’t achieve these strategic priorities without the help of you, our community! Consider making a monetary donation here, becoming a member here, or becoming a volunteer here.

If your organization would like to partner with us, please contact our Development Director, Allison Fleming, at