Museum Studies at Tufts University

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Museum Advocacy

This seems sadly apropos for a week in which funding for the NEA and NEH has been cut again. AAM is doing two free museum advocacy webinars next week.

Two FREE Upcoming Advocacy Programs – July 12 and July 13

AAM will offer two FREE programs next week, and we invite you to participate:

August is Congress’s District Work Period: Now’s the Time to Plan a Site Visit
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 2pm EDT
Members of Congress typically spend the entire month of August back home, meeting with constituents and doing site visits. This is the perfect time to arrange a visit to your museum! We’ll show you how easy it is to set up a meeting, a site visit, or another event involving your elected officials. And we (almost) guarantee that your elected officials will jump at the chance to visit your museum.
Register now or learn more about AAM’s Online Advocacy Training Series.

Museum Benchmarking Online Demonstration
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 2pm EDT
Want to see how your museum compares with others while also creating meaningful advocacy data? AAM will demonstrate its new benchmarking tool – Museum Benchmarking Online (MBO) – the 21st century successor to AAM’s Museum Financial Information survey, long considered the most comprehensive source of data about America’s museums. MBO is easy to use, totally secure, and fully online. Museums can use it to generate instant, customized reports to help make their case.
Register now or visit www.aam-us.org/MBO to learn more.

“AAM’s new online benchmarking is a powerful tool for strategic planning, board and funder presentations, and public communication efforts,” said AAM President Ford W. Bell. “Museums that can compare themselves to other similarly structured museums will have a competitive advantage in making their case to elected officials, foundations, educators, and the public. I invite my colleagues across the museum field to join us for these free webinars.”

House Appropriations Letter Supporting Office of Museum Services

This is a move-fast kind of alert. I just completed the process outlined here by the AAM, and it took two minutes and twelve second. (Yes, I used a stopwatch.)

That two minutes and twelve seconds included composing the following paragraph, which I offer here for you to cut-and-paste into the relevant section of the email form (it requires you to type something in there):

As a member of the Tufts Museum Studies community, I am keenly aware of how necessarily IMLS support is for the future of museums in America. The availability of public funding for innovative, community-based educational outreach of the kind provided at museums is crucial. The IMLS has a longtime track record of providing just such support.

Representative Mike Capuano has not yet signed this appropriations letter. This is an opportunity for Tufts students to really make a difference. I know you can take less than two minutes out of your day to do this!

Instructions as provided by the AAM below:

Act Now! Ask Your Representative to Join House Appropriations Letter Supporting Office of Museum Services

Great News!  Once again in conjunction with Museums Advocacy Day, U.S. Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY), Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ) are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter in the U.S. House of Representatives encouraging Members of Congress to join their bipartisan letter to the House Appropriations Committee urging $35 million for the Office of Museum Services (OMS) at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

**The deadline to sign on to this letter is this THURSDAY, MARCH 17, 2011. **

CLICK HERE to ask your Representative to SIGN THE TONKO/SLAUGHTER/LANCE APPROPRIATIONS LETTER Today!

“Members of the House of Representatives are most likely to sign on to a Dear Colleague letter when asked by a constituent,” said AAM President Ford W. Bell.  “We have already seen a number of attacks on cultural agencies and programs this year, and we need to ensure enough Members of Congress sign on to this letter to protect the IMLS Office of Museum Services from funding cuts.  I applaud the leadership of Representatives Tonko, Slaughter and Lance on this issue.”

The letter highlights the many educational and other vital services museums provide in their local communities every day and asks the Appropriations Committee to support $35 million for FY12 for OMS.

Thanks to advocate visits during Museums Advocacy Day, the following Representatives have already agreed to sign the letter:

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY), lead co-signer
Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), lead co-signer
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), lead co-signer
Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA)
Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV)
Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU)
Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK)
Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA)
Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN)
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT)
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD)
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA)
Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA)
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY)
Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ)
Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI)
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI)
Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA)
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA)
Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME)
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI)
Rep. James Moran (D-VA)
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)
Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA)
Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA)
Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY)
Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA)

The Office of Museum Services received just over $35 million in the last completed funding cycle (FY10). President Obama has requested an 8.2% reduction in his FY12 budget proposal. Congress is currently completing work on its FY11 budget, and the House is already beginning to work on funding for FY12.

To get involved in more advocacy for museums visit www.speakupformuseums.org today!

Happy (?) Museums Advocacy Day!

If you haven’t been following the AAM’s Facebook feed – or any of their other communication methods – you might not know that today and tomorrow are designated as Museum Advocacy Days. The AAM, through its website Speak Up For Museums, is promoting a number of ways to get in touch with your local representatives and make a case for why museums are vital in their communities.

There will be a number of events down in Washington, D.C., but for us students who might not have the resources to jet down there to participate in the workshops, what can be done at home?

Lots!

– You can catch up on your reading by leafing through the AAM’s Advocacy Materials website – it’s a great collection of PDFs with highlights of the how and why of advocating for museums.

– You can watch the archived webinar about museum advocacy that the AAM did a few months ago. (And read our own Kris Bierfelt’s highlights overview if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing.)

– You can also watch the live feed of the programming in Washington, D.C. through the AAM’s website here.

Come on back tomorrow, and we’ll have even more ways you can participate in standing up for museums.

Museums and Historic Preservation in FY 2012

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is live-blogging their analysis of President Obama’s proposed budget for next year. They’ll be updating throughout the day as they discuss areas of the budget that relate to historic preservation and public funding for the arts. If you want to do your own research, there’s an interactive breakdown of the budget on the White House website.

For those who have been following the buzz about the budget through other news sources, this budget is an attempt to drastically scale back federal spending in the face of an escalating deficit. Not twenty minutes ago on NPR I heard what seemed like a good summary of where it will go next: essentially, Democrats think it’s way over the top and Republicans think it doesn’t go far enough. Which is to say, this document is still due for a lot of debate and revision.

Either way things shape up, it probably doesn’t look good for federal funding for museums. We’ll be posting wrap-ups this week, as well as some interesting thinking about new business models for museums. The future isn’t looking so bright for the traditional public money dependence that got a lot of museums through the 20th century.

AAM Webinar on Social Media and Museum Advocacy

In early December, AAM sponsored a webinar on social media and museum advocacy. Led by Stephanie Vance of Advocacy Associates, the presentation provided basic lessons in how to use newer tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to cultivate supporters and engage elected officials. Here are some of Vance’s suggestions:

Blogs: If you’re writing on behalf of an organization, Vance advises avoiding politically partisan messages, but there’s no reason you can’t talk about legislation that affects your museum or ask your audience to let their representatives know how important your museum is to them. She cites I Heart Art: Portland, Small Museum
Association
, and Exploratorium Explainers as examples of blogs that do a good job informing and inspiring their audience beyond just marketing.

Twitter: Search for your museum’s name to see who is already talking about you, and respond to those people. Cultivate followers and let them know about issues your museum is facing, locally or nationally. You can follow AAM (@AAMers) to get advocacy action alerts that you can share. Sign up for your legislators’ Twitter feeds and tag them in relevant messages. For example, Michael Capuano (@mikecapuano) is the congressional representative in Tufts’ district, so you might ask your audience to retweet a message asking him to support FY12 funding for IMLS.

LinkedIn Connect to your city councilors, congressional representatives, mayor’s office, etc. and see if you share any 2nd-degree connections. You may find that a former classmate or colleague has a connection that could help your message find its way to a legislator’s desk more quickly.

Facebook The fastest-growing demographic on Facebook are users who are 35 and older, Vance says, and more and more legislators are using it as a major communication tool. You can “like” your legislators’ pages and post on their walls about upcoming events and community partnerships. Search for your museum on Flickr or YouTube and repost links to any user-generated content that shows their constituents are engaging with your organization.

Once you get the hang of in social media as a way to communicate with legislators and cultivate community supporters, make sure you teach these tools to volunteer committees or friends’ groups who are already valuable “real-world” advocates for your museum.

Speak Up for Museums is AAM’s museum advocacy initiative. Check there for more tips and webinars, and to find out more about AAM’s Museum Advocacy Day, February 28 and March 1 in Washington, D.C. You can view a recording of this webinar as part of AAM’s advocacy trainings website.

Kris Bierfelt is a student in the Tufts Museum Studies certificate program, and works as a freelance writer and editor.

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