Sunday, July 29, 2012

PMA Meetings 2012 - Part 1

Yes we were just in the Ottawa area for the national conference, but we liked it so much we decided to go back for the annual Provincial & Territorial Museum Association (PMA) Meetings. Our host this year was the Canadian Museum of Nature, who gave us a great tour and tons of food to keep us going over the two days. The museum also gave me some great photo ops that are far more interesting than a bunch of people sitting around tables. I hope you enjoy them :)

The atmosphere was different from other years, and CHIN started off the meetings by saying, let's talk about the cuts. We all know that serious cuts are taking effect and this is greatly affecting our work. CHIN shared that their approach to the departmental cuts was & is to preserve investment funding, which means the Virtual Exhibits and Community Memories programs are intact. Unfortunately they are no longer able to support Young Canada Works internships or special projects with the PMAs, which is a serious blow to the provincial associations. Since 2006 we've had 9 CHIN-funded YCW interns which has allowed us to conduct research projects, photograph artifacts, create how-to manuals, test out qr codes in museums...lots of valuable and innovative work for and with our member museums. It would have been impossible to accomplish this work without this funding support. We also heard that the Canada Interactive Fund is gone, which would have been a perfect fit for our upcoming website. So now as we move towards the September launch and even more innovation, we are looking at other partnership and funding opportunities.

News from the other provinces & territories
The Yukon reported that they are revisiting their strategic plan and looking at joint marketing while Nunavut is working on building up their membership network. New Brunswick is focusing efforts on professional development for members and political advocacy, and is dealing with a restructured provincial department and recognizing the need for quality controls in the provincial inventory program. Newfoundland & Labrador is preparing to launch a new website with a members only section for toolkits and resources, and is conducting a lot of training on intangible cultural heritage in conjunction with MUN and the Heritage Foundation. Alberta's strategic plan has them focusing on sustainability and building organizational capacity while getting to know their new government and culture ministry. Their upcoming conference is about relevance, asking those tough questions about change management, closure, working with under-served communities etc. Quebec has a new mobile website and just passed 1000 Facebook fans. They have been forming new partnerships, such as working more with Library & Archives Quebec and working on the conservation of religious objects not in museums. PEI has a new website and is moving into the world of online training. Manitoba is redoing its curriculum, revamping its awards program, and working on a communications strategy. Ontario is looking at merging 3 programs into 1, undergoing a review of community museum standards, delivering webinars and preparing to launch a provincial heritage director, and have set up a nice new network system that lets them access their files from anywhere. And last but not least, Saskatchewan is also working on updating their website, have just hired a new Museums Advisor (congrats & welcome to May-Lin!!), are moving more and more into the realm of digital communications & online training, and like Alberta are addressing the issue of museum closure.
Everyone expressed that they are experiencing major challenges with the national cuts, and some also have provincial cuts to deal with as well.

Canadian Museum of Nature
The question of museums fundraising was raised and made for an interesting but brief discussion. It was acknowledged that museums need help in this area, but that statistics show that they are able to raise a much higher percentage of their budget than other charities. Corporations are now contributing as part of their marketing strategy and in accordance with a business model. Corporate philanthropy appears to have undergone a major shift.

CHIN Membership Services
I often hear from our members that their situation and struggles are unique. I won't say that isn't accurate, but I thought it might be interesting for people to hear what CHIN reported about their members. 1,527 organizations are members of CHIN, and of these 79% have between 0-5 employees. These organizations self-identify as museums, historic sites, galleries, interpretive centres, heritage/cultural centres, etc.
The Community Memories program has been very successful in Nova Scotia, and continues to be one of CHIN's most valuable services. This year 56 proposals were successful - 4 of these being in Nova Scotia. There was some discussion about content, and the idea for "themed calls" was put forward. This means that instead of CHIN announcing a general call for proposals, they would ask for more specific proposals. They have analysed existing content and identified key areas to improve, especially in areas dealing with upcoming anniversaries - the sesquicentennial, WWI, Vimy Ridge, the Halifax Explosion, etc etc etc.
If you are considering applying into this program, I would love to talk with you about your ideas.

PMA Meetings 2012 - Part 2
PMA Meetings 2012 - Part 3

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