Whether you are a seasoned advocate or just beginning with your first Museums Advocacy Day, we recommend reading through these helpful talking points on how to communicate about the power of museums.
Museums Advocacy Day partners and supporters may find them helpful when talking with the media, while advocates and museum-level participants may find them helpful for explaining the importance of museums and the crisis they currently face with fellow advocates, your networks, and your legislators.
Note: The legislative agenda that will be shared during Museums Advocacy Day 2023 will give you more details and examples on how to discuss the policy issues and asks that most impact museums in 2023.
Museums and their communities during the COVID-19 crisis:
- The pandemic has inflicted profound damage on US museums, the vast majority of which are 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organizations.
Early in the pandemic, essentially all museums were closed to the public. 33 percent of directors felt their museums were at some risk of permanent closure without immediate support—a threatened loss of 12,000 museums and 124,000 jobs.
While PPP and SVOG provided critical lifelines, a recent survey shows attendance remains down 38 percent on average from pre-pandemic levels and 17 percent of directors still feel there is some risk of closing permanently without additional relief.
60 percent of museums report experiencing pandemic-related financial losses since March 2020, with the average being a little over $791,000. 60 percent of responding museums have budgets of $1 million or less.
Museums have been pivotal to our nation’s ability to manage through the pandemic. Even as museums experienced closures and significant losses in revenue, they continued to meet an increase in demand for their services and continued safeguarding and supporting their communities. They contributed to the ongoing education of our country’s children by providing lesson plans, online learning opportunities, and drop-off learning kits to teachers and families. They used their outdoor spaces to grow and donate produce to area food banks, as well as maintaining these spaces for individuals to safely relax, enjoy nature, and recover from the mental health impacts of social isolation. They are serving as vaccination sites across our country and acting as knowledge centers combatting vaccine hesitancy in their communities, and they have donated their PPE and scientific equipment to fight COVID-19. They have provided access to childcare and meals to families of healthcare workers and first responders. In the midst of financial distress, they even raised funds for community relief.
- Museums are economic engines, contributing $50 billion (prior to the pandemic) to the U.S. economy annually—supporting more than 726,000 American jobs and generating $12 billion in tax revenue to all levels of government.
- Museums are critical to advancing education in their communities: investing (pre-pandemic) some 18 million instructional hours and $2 billion annually in education programs that reach students of all ages and needs.
- American museums spend more than $2 billion per year on education—with programs in every subject, often tailored to state and local curriculums—acting as centers of learning popular with people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, races, ages, educational levels, and political affiliations.
- Prior to the pandemic, 50 million students attended public schools in the US, while 55 million students visit American museums each year.
- In a time when trust in most sources of information is declining, museums have proven resilient, retaining their “superpower of trust.” In 2021, in a broad survey of museum-goers and the general population, museums ranked as the second most trusted source of information overall, following friends and family and ranking higher than government and news outlets.
- Museums provide powerful and healing healthcare programs that reach diverse populations.
Museums support national security and diplomacy efforts through international cultural exchange.
- Americans care deeply about their museums: every week, they donate over 1 million volunteer hours to the museum field.
- Americans want action: 95 percent would look more favorably on a legislator who acted to support museums.