Thursday, February 23, 2017

The importance of government funding to SJMA and you


Dear members of SJMA’s community,

Community and advocacy are at the heart of the Museum’s work. With that in mind, I wanted to write with a few updates and to keep you apprised of the Museum’s accomplishments, especially at this time of change in our nation.

Government support is so important to the San Jose Museum of Art. The Museum has received critical support from the  National Endowment for the Arts’ Artworks program for several of our recent major exhibitions—including Border Cantos: Richard Misrach| Guillermo Galindo (2016) and Postdate: Photography and Inherited History from India (2015).

These competitive NEA grants support opportunities for the public to engage with “diverse and excellent art” across the country. They play an instrumental role in enabling mid-sized, community-based institutions like SJMA to develop and present ambitious original projects.  

It is similarly thanks to a 2015 generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services—the primary source of federal support for the nation’s museums and libraries––that SJMA has been able to take its STEAM-education program, Sowing Creativity program to the next level.

We are thrilled to announce that Sowing Creativity just received a 2017 Superintendent's Award for Excellence in Museum EducationThe program currently serves one thousand students per year, the vast majority of whom are based in low-income Title One schools. We anticipate enrollment to more than triple in the next school year to some three thousand students). This high-impact program includes in-school teaching, family passes, and on-site visits.

To further amplify the importance of government support, I am pleased to inform you that the Museum is the grateful recipient of another incredibly generous grant from the IMLS in 2016.

Your SJMA received IMLS support to design, research, produce, and launch an online collections catalog to be released in conjunction with the Museum’s fiftieth anniversary in 2019. Interactive and multimedia content will highlight a core set of fifty artists. This form of federal funding — along with your support and participation —is so essential to the Museum’s success,.

What can you do to help? You may have seen recent news reports that suggest what we anticipated following the 2016 election: the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) could face potential elimination. IMLS is also up for renewal. The Trump administration is reportedly working from a blueprint from a Heritage Foundation report that calls for drastic cuts and consolidations of federal programs and agencies, including the elimination of NEA and NEH.

Laura L. Lott, president and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), notes, “We are extremely concerned by these reports, and the museum field will stand strongly against any effort to gut the important work of NEA and NEH, or any other federal agency supporting the work of museums. These agencies play a uniquely valuable role in helping make the arts and humanities accessible to every American.”  

Here’s how you can help right away:    
  • Go on record in support of NEA and NEH. Make sure your members of Congress know how important these funds are to your museum. Use AAM’s template letter and personalize it with information about how the NEA-sponsored exhibitions and programs at SJMA have affected you.
  • AAM has other tools and templates to help you advocate, such as its op-ed templates.
  • Find out who represents you in Congress and in your state legislature and get ready to lend your voice when we’ll ask you to “Advocate from Anywhere” on Museums Advocacy Day, February 28.
You are at the heart of what we do. Thanks to the success of the exhibition Beauty—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial (on view through February 19, 2017), the Museum has seen a 39% increase in attendance over last year. Our Lunar New Year Community Day on January 28 set a new attendance record with just over 3,500 visitors.

THANK YOU for all you do to help SJMA connect, inspire, and delight!

Warm regards,

Susan Sayre Batton
Interim Director



San Jose Museum of Art, 110 S Market St, San Jose, CA 95113 www.SanJoseMuseumofArt.org

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