On April 22-24, MANY and Museumwise held their annual conference in Albany. The two organizations are in the processing of merging which should be a good thing. Due to all the commotion over the NYS Regents, the Core Curriculum, and the state requirements in social studies for high school graduation, I have been delayed in posting about that conference. [Read more…] about Peter Feinman: The MANY / Museumwise Conference
Museum Association of New York
Since my emergency post of April 22 a lot has happened.
1. MANY/Museumwise held its annual conference
2. APHNYS held its annual conference at the same time
3. The NYS Board of Regents met
4. Gov. Cuomo created a New York Education Reform Commission
5. Gov. Cuomo’s “Path Through History” initiative scheduled a meeting for May 21
Let’s see if it is possible to make sense of some of these developments. [Read more…] about Size Matters: Advocating for New York History
This week Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced $89 million for in New York Works funding for capital improvements at 48 specific state parks and historic sites that account for 37 million of the park system’s 57 million annual visitors. The state budget signed last week also includes $35.6 million in total funding for the New York State Council on the Arts grants, an increase of $4 million. The Environmental Protection Fund is unchanged, at $134 million which includes 9M for the Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquariums Program and additional monies for some historic preservation projects. According to the Museum Association of New York (MANY), there are no cuts in jobs or programs at the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, but “Parks would be down 12 jobs, to 1,736, reflecting attrition and the ongoing hiring freeze.” Funding to run the parks would dip slightly, about 2.5 percent, to $211.3 million according to MANY.
According to a press statement issued by the Governor’s office, New York Works is designed to reinvent state economic development with innovative new strategy that will put New Yorkers back to work rebuilding the state’s infrastructure. The Task Force is expected to help create tens of thousands of jobs by coordinating comprehensive capital plans, overseeing investment in infrastructure projects, and accelerating hundreds of critical projects across the state.
Parks & Trails New York was among those who reacted enthusiastically to the New York Works plan. Through a series of reports over the last few years, Parks & Trails New York has attempted to document the challenges facing the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), particularly the agency’s enormous capital projects backlog, and the economic benefit the park system generates for the people and economy of the Empire State.
On a statewide basis, Parks & Trails New York reports that direct spending by OPRHP and spending by visitors to state parks supports up to $1.9 billion in output and sales, $440 million in employment income, and 20,000 jobs. The benefit-to-cost ratio is more than 5-to-1—more than $5 in benefits for every $1 in costs.
A detailing of projects in each region of the state can be found by using the Governor’s press releases here.
So where do we go from here? The August issue of The Public Historian devoted to “Strengthening the Management of State History: Issues, Perspectives and Insights from New York” was featured in a recent post by Bruce Dearstyne. In these articles, the need for leadership, direction, and coordination in state history is touted. A stronger role for the State Historian is recommended since the present position has been “emasculated.” [Read more…] about Irene and New York State History (Part Two)
Anyone who follows this website, New York History: Historical News and Views From The Empire State, knows the close to astonishing amount of historical activity going on in our state. New York’s history, I believe, has more variety, interest, and potential for us to draw insights today, than the history of any other state. We have hundreds of historical programs and officially designated local historians. But we also know that the state of the historical enterprise is not as strong as it ought to be. [Read more…] about Strengthening NY’s Historical Enterprise
The Museum Association of New York (MANY) provides a fact sheet about museums in the state. Here are some interesting numbers, you can also check out their white paper, “Cultural/Heritage Tourism: Opportunity, Impact, and Implications” online here:
* There are approximately 1,900 public and private museums, heritage organizations, and historic sites in New York.
* That equals one museum for every 10,258 New Yorkers.
* 68 million visitors enjoyed New York State museums in 2007.
* 29% of all tourists visit museums, historic sites, or cultural events.
* 55% of the museums offer standards-based programs for K – 12 students
* 4.461 million school children participated in classes at museums in 2006.
* 2.195 million students enjoyed museum outreach programs in their classrooms.
* 79% of the museums care for permanent collections.
* 1 million+ objects are added to these permanent collections annually.
* These museums currently employ more than 17,000 people.
* Museum operating expenses top $1 billion annually in New York State: the majority of this is returned to the state’s economy as wages, purchases, or taxes.
The Upstate History Alliance and the Museum Association of New York are sponsoring “New York State’s Museums in Conversation: What Inspires You?” a three-day conference April 11-13, 2010 at the Albany Marriott, Wolf Road, in Albany. The event organizers seeks discussion proposals that focus on what inspires you about the work of others, be they museums, libraries, nature centers or parks, small or big businesses. What have you seen that’s been so great, so innovative, so enterprising, so adaptable, and so fun that you want to talk about it with your colleagues?
Proposals are welcome from a wide range of institutions and practitioners, within and outside the museum community, to encourage lively discussions that offer new perspectives on museum work and create new connections to each other.
Submitting a Proposal
The deadline for submitting a proposal is November 2, 2009. Proposals must be submitted electronically, as an email attachment to email@example.com
Visit www.upstatehistory.org to download the proposal form and for more information. The program committee will review proposals and decisions will be made by mid-November.
If you have any questions or are looking for assistance with developing a proposal, contact UHA Program Coordinator, Stephanie Lehner, at 800.895.1648 firstname.lastname@example.org or MANY Director Anne Ackerson at 518.273.3400 email@example.com
The Associated Press is reporting that the New York State Board of Regents, which oversees museums in the state, may change their policy to allow museums to sell their collections in order to pay back debt. The change is a result of Fort Ticonderoga’s recent financial troubles. Here is a clip from the story:
The state Board of Regents started working on an “emergency amendment” to the rules governing how museums can manage collections because it appeared that Fort Ticonderoga, a historic site and museum in northern New York, was on the verge of bankruptcy, said James Dawson, chairman of the board’s Cultural Education Committee… State rules currently require museums to use the money from such sales only to buy other works or enhance their collections.
The emergency amendment would allow museums to sell off works to pay down debt if they can show that they have no other way to raise the money and would otherwise go bankrupt. The museums also would only be allowed to sell the works to another museum or historical society in New York.
The Board was to have taken up the amendment at a meeting Monday but Dawson — who represents northern New York on the Board of Regents — said he withdrew the proposal Thursday, partly because Fort Ticonderoga was able to raise enough money to stay out of bankruptcy court.
The plan has come to light just two weeks after the National Academy in Manhattan (not subject to the Board of Regents) sold off two Hudson River School paintings. Other cultural institutions in the state are also facing financial hardships that have been reported here at the New York History blog, including local libraries and Amsterdam’s Elwood Museum. Last month Fort Ticonderoga laid-off four employees and closed an office building (BTW, the Smithsonian is also facing financial hardship and recently cut salaries).
It was announced in July that Fort Ticonderoga faced financial ruin after Deborah Mars, a Ticonderoga native married to the billionaire co-owner of the Mars candy company Forrest Mars Jr., bailed on their long-time support for the fort just before completion of the new $23 million Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center. The Mars paid for nearly all of the new building’s construction but left before it was finished leaving Fort Ti about two million dollars in debt. When the building bearing their name opened, they didn’t show.
Other options that have been floated include applying for new short-term loans, a new capital campaign to raise $3 million to $5 million, asking the state for a bailout or to take over ownership of the fort, selling of some of the fort’s property or collections or closing for an indefinite period until the finances are sorted out. Coincidentally, Ticonderoga was also considering selling a Hudson River School painting, Thomas Cole’s 1831 “Ruins of Fort Ticonderoga.”
According to the Associated Press:
Anne Ackerson, director of the Museum Association of New York, said her group was among those opposing the idea of allowing museums to sell their collections to pay debts. While it might be a short-term fix for some museums’ financial problems, it might dissuade others from seeking other solutions when money gets tight, she said.
The Board of Regents rules governing the sale of museum holdings were established in the early 1990s when the New York Historical Society faced financial problems.
Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Queens Democrat who chaired an investigative committee at the time, said he was happy to hear the Board of Regents had withdrawn the emergency amendment proposal but remained concerned that they might still try to tweak other parts of the rules that define what qualifies as part of a museum’s collection.
Brodsky said he urged the Regents to hold off on making any changes until after a more thorough review involving museums, the Legislature and others with an interest.
Upstate History Alliance and Museum Association of New York are calling for participation in their recently reorganized annual conference. According to their web site, “The UHA/MANY annual conference has a new name and a new format and we need your ideas and leadership to bring it to life! We’ve decided to leave the “talking head” sessions of past conferences behind and focus on generating a new energy through conversations and networking.”
Museums in Conversation: Fresh Perspectives for New York State Museums is being organized in collaboration with the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Council for the Humanities, and the Archives Partnership Trust. It will be held March 29-30, 2009 at the Doubletree Hotel, Tarrytown, New York.
The calls for session proposals and pre- and post-conference workshops proposals are now available here. The submission deadline is November 1, 2008.
Proposals are being welcomed “from a wide range of disciplines and professions, within and outside the museum community, that focus on how institutions are using interdisciplinary approaches to reach new audiences and build innovative collaborations that strengthen program organizational development.”
The conference organizers are seeking undergraduate and graduate student volunteers.