Notes from IHA
On February 23-24, 2015, Museums Advocacy Day, museums across the nation will call on elected representatives in Congress to advocate for their support of the services museum provide. Last year more than 300 museum advocates from all 50 states visited 335 congressional offices. Hundreds of letters were sent to Congress. The annual effort is led by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), with strong support from the American Association for State and Local History and others, including the Illinois Association of Museums.
Many resources for effective advocacy appear on the AAM website. They are valuable whether or not you can attend in person. This link will take you to the main advocacy page where you can get an overview: http://www.aam-us.org/advocacy/museums-advocacy-day. Tips on participating can be found at http://www.aam-us.org/advocacy/museums-advocacy-day/advocate-from-anywhere.
The AAM provides issue briefs that offer succinct talking points about the Institute of Museum and Library Services, charitable giving, museums and the economy, elementary and secondary education, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, STEM (Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics) education, historic preservation, NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act), and ethics and best practices of museums. The briefs can be found at http://www.aam-us.org/advocacy/issues/issue-briefs. They could be useful in many situations where issues that concern museums are pertinent.
The AAM website offers ideas on contacting elected officials and helps you locate your representatives. There is a publicity toolkit with tips on contacting the press, along with information on using social media to get the word out about museums. The advocacy event includes training for attendees and opportunities to meet with other advocates. Congressional awards will be given to elected officials who have supported the work of museums.
Last year’s Museums Advocacy Day included the appearance of Spencer Hahn, a developmentally disabled eight-year-old who learned to walk while visiting the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. The AAM is collecting stories from museums about how they changed people’s lives. Did your museum change someone’s life? You can email your story in your own words, send a letter you received from a visitor, or upload a link to a video or photo that captures a visitor’s story. Send your material to firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=Most%20Powerful%20Story. The deadline is December 1.
For more information, contact Dewey Blanton (202-218-1794). To register for Museums Advocacy Day, go to http://www.aam-us.org/advocacy/museums-advocacy-day/register. Registration is free for AAM members and $99 for nonmembers. Staff of member museums may download one free pdf of the alliance publication “Speak Up for Museums: The AAM Guide to Advocacy.” Museums Advocacy Day raises awareness among elected officials about the work that museums do in their communities.