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Hundreds of Advocates Speaking Up for Museums with Members of Congress on Museums Advocacy Day 2022

Category: Press Release

For Immediate Release

ARLINGTON, VA–Today 550 advocates are participating in Museums Advocacy Day to urge Congress to support sustained funding for museums experiencing compounding financial damage from the impacts of the pandemic.

Organized by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the fourteenth annual Museums Advocacy Day, February 28–March 1, welcomes participants from nearly all fifty states and Washington, DC. Advocates are presenting Congress with powerful research and stories on the economic, educational, and community impact museums make locally and nationally, and how they are vital to our nation’s recovery.

“While museums received record levels of support from the federal government over the course of the pandemic, it will take years for the museum field to fully recover,” said Laura Lott, AAM President and CEO. “Museums need sustained support to continue serving communities across our country.“

The Alliance reports the following figures that exemplify the importance of investing in museums:

  • 60 percent of museums surveyed in early 2022 have been experiencing pandemic-related financial losses since March 2020, with the average losses being a little over $791,000. Sixty percent of responding museums have budgets of $1 million or less. Survey data shows the museum field will take years to recover to pre-pandemic levels of staffing, revenue, and attendance.
  • Museums invest more than $2 billion in education programs each year.
  • Pre-pandemic, US museums contributed $50 billion into the economy each year, supporting more than 726,000 American jobs.
  • Pre-pandemic, museums received more than 850 million visits annually, more than all major league sporting events combined.
  • For every $1 invested in museums and other cultural organizations, more than $5 is returned in tax revenues.
  • Museums have a significant financial impact in every state.
  • Nearly all museums are nonprofit organizations, and over one-third of their funding comes from charitable donations.

All museum supporters are encouraged to advocate from anywhere by sending letters to elected officials, engaging the local press, and sharing messages via social media using #MuseumsAdvocacy2022.

 

Legislative Asks

During Museums Advocacy Day 2022, advocates are encouraging Congress’ tradition of strong bipartisan backing of the agencies that support the critical role museums play in society and the communities, urban and rural, they serve every day, all across the nation.

Museum advocates will urge Congress to include museums in COVID-19 relief funding. They will ask Congress to increase funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and other agencies that help museums better serve their communities. Advocates will also urge Congress to increase charitable giving incentives that would benefit all nonprofit charitable organizations, including museums.

Thanks to several federal relief programs, tens of thousands of jobs were saved and far fewer museums than initially expected are in danger of permanent closure. However, 2021 proved to be another painful year in which operating income sank further and attendance was down nearly 40 percent for many of our nation’s museums. Museums need additional support to continue serving their communities.

 

Advocacy Leadership Awards

During Museums Advocacy Day, the Alliance will present awards to advocates who have demonstrated exemplary leadership in their advocacy for the museum field:

Erika Sanger, Executive Director, Museum Association of New York (MANY)

Erika Sanger brings a wonderful passion and commitment to leading and representing New York State museums at all levels of government, working tirelessly to cultivate deep and meaningful relationships with legislators. Erika is always seeking out and capitalizing on opportunities to speak up for museums, and serves as a trusted resource and knowledgeable representative of the New York museum community who is often called to testify on behalf of funding and support for New York museums. We applaud Erika’s proactive leadership to ensure that New York museums are seen and heard, and in supporting the large and diverse Museums Advocacy Day delegation from New York to support our collective cause of museums.

 

Lisa Craig Brisson, Executive Director, Michigan Museums Association (MMA)

Lisa Craig Brisson has worked steadfastly to make advocacy a pillar of the Michigan Museums Association (MMA), amplifying the collective voice of the Michigan museum community both statewide and nationally. Lisa has been an active participant in and champion of Museums Advocacy Day since first attending in 2013, and has worked to grow the Michigan museum advocacy community to ensure that all of Michigan’s legislators are aware of the important work of museums and the value they provide to their communities and to the state. Lisa’s dedicated work for Michigan’s museums includes serving as Vice-President for the Board of Directors for both the Coalition of State Museum Associations and the Cultural Advocacy Network of Michigan and as Secretary for the Upper Peninsula Arts and Culture Alliance. Lisa’s year-round leadership efforts give voice to the breadth of the Michigan museum community and serve to support Michigan’s museums and the people that give them life.

 

Meg Winikates, Director of Engagement, New England Museums Association (NEMA)

Meg Winikates has spearheaded NEMA’s steadfast support of Museums Advocacy Day and spurred a new level of enthusiasm in advocating for New England museums. From serving as the “conversation captain” in New England congressional meetings to helping prepare and coordinate the delegation of New England advocates, Meg is an invaluable advocate, partner, and contributor to Museums Advocacy Day. Meg dependably provides New England museums with advocacy tips, materials, and data to help make the case for museums at Museums Advocacy Day and year-round, and has taken NEMA’s advocacy efforts to new heights with both New England Museum Week and this year’s Advocacy Camp program. Meg continues to show a deep commitment to civic engagement and keeping NEMA museums informed about and engaged in nonpartisan voter engagement. Meg is a true champion of museums.

 

Congressional Honorees

During Museums Advocacy Day, the Alliance will present awards to legislators who have demonstrated exemplary support for museums. This year’s awardees are U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and U.S. Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Fred Upton (R-MI) for their leadership advocating for critically needed COVID-19 pandemic relief and recovery funding–enabling many museums to survive and saving thousands of museum jobs–and supporting the museum field’s efforts to continue serving their communities.

 

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) is the only organization representing the entire museum field, from art and history museums to science centers and zoos. Since 1906, AAM has been championing museums through advocacy and providing museum professionals with the resources, knowledge, inspiration, and connections they need to move the field forward.

AAM’s Alliance of 35,000 museums and museum professionals seeks to better our communities, and our world, through collaborative human-centered experiences, education, and connection to histories, cultures, the natural world, and one another. For more information, visit www.aam-us.org.

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Natanya Khashan
Director, Marketing & Communications
media@aam-us.org

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