The Next Step
There has been so much to see, do, and learn during our first half of SHA 2014. As Louise and Liz already mentioned we have been learning quite a bit about strategic planning, managing change, the impact of objects, and so on and so forth. On Monday, Benjamin Filene and Dan Spock walked us through the various ways that museums can collaborate with their communities, whether neighborhood communities or heritage communities, to create exhibitions with broader impact. We discussed that each collaboration takes a different form and may even have a different measure of success. If the collaboration is primarily between the museum and its guests, then a contributory venue for guests might work best….like a talk-back board. It is all about setting priorities and goals before you ever begin the project so you can clearly determine what classifies the “success” of that individual project.
After learning all about these great exhibition possibilities, we spent Tuesday and Wednesday with a selection of excellent speakers who taught us something very important….how to fund such ventures. We all wish we had endowments that could support every thing we could ever dream of doing, but I doubt any of us are that lucky. Anita Durel, Ellen Spear, and Mike Murphy, walked us through a variety of ways to gain financial support to do the things we wish to do in our communities. Anita led us in a discussion about how to identify, cultivate, and (most scarily) ask a donor for a major donation to support your organization’s vision. Ellen focused on the equal importance of investing and de-investing in programs, while also focusing on the idea of finding the assets that you can monetize…how can we make the money to support the programs that we find important.
Wednesday afternoon we toured the state capitol building and met with Mike who gave us yet another idea of how to find some much needed capitol….at our capitol. He discussed how to cultivate support in your government for the community importance of cultural organizations and then how to get the money necessary to keep them alive and well.
Although it was a VERY full beginning of the week, we celebrated the half-way point by attending a program at the Indiana Historical Society entitled “Will You Marry Me”—part theatrical presentation, part community discussion. It is so inspiring to be around others who share your passion for historical organizations, to hear about their struggles and successes. We are all making great connections, and fast friends. I can’t wait to see how the rest of this amazing experience plays out!