Museums in the Post-Truth Era

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After the contentious “Brexit” referendum and an equally divisive U.S. presidential election caused usage of the adjective to skyrocket, “Post-Truth” was selected by Oxford Dictionaries as 2016‘s international word of the year.  What does the current Post-Truth era – when objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief – mean for the role of museums as public institutions?  Following are some reflections on this question.

While it is perhaps reassuring that according to AAM “Museums are considered the most trustworthy source of information in America, rated higher than local papers, nonprofits researchers, the U.S. government, or academic researchers” (Museums R+D, Reach Advisors), does the Post-Truth decline in influence of objective facts mean that museums correspondingly play a less influential and less significant role in society?

One can argue that the opposite may be the case – that in a Post-Truth era museums are potentially more influential and have a larger role to play, precisely because they are both trusted and invite visitors to become active participants in the exploration and discovery of “facts,” “truth,” and “reality” based on each individual’s mediated interaction with museum objects in the context of the institution’s exhibits and educational programs.  The emphasis on discovery learning inherent to most museums assumes that each visitor brings their own life experiences and personal knowledge to these encounters.  By fostering an environment in which visitors are encouraged to question assumptions and be open to dialogue with others, museums offer a made-to-order recipe for avoiding the pitfalls of the Post-Truth era.

However, there is a caveat.  Current social activism – something that theoretically museum best practices should welcome and be aligned with – has the potential to be directed critically at museums themselves.  Holland Cotter’s recent article “Money, Ethics, Art:  Can Museums Police Themselves” in The New York Times discusses some of the ways that such activism has focused critical scrutiny on several prominent museums, including The Whitney, The Met, the Guggenheim, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as any institution that has objects in its collections that were appropriated through Western colonization of the Third World.  The ethical issues under scrutiny are wide ranging:  from an initial failure to consult relevant indigenous communities while planning for an exhibit of Native American pottery by the Mimbres people, to the ethics of accepting “tainted” financial support from selected donors and/or museum trustees.  As Cotter notes, “in the space of barely a year, the very foundations of museums – the money that sustains them, the art that fills them, the decision makers that run them – have been called into question.  And there’s no end to the questioning in sight.”

While there are lessons to be learned from each of the ethical issues raised in the examples cited by Cotter, the overarching principle collectively revealed is even more critical.  If museums hope to retain the current widespread trust of the American public in the Post-Truth Era, then as a profession it is essential that first we must each look long and hard at the ethics underpinning our own institutions.


John E. Coraor, Ph.D.
Cultural Management Partners LLC

Navigating the Border between “Trustee” & “Volunteer”


Trustees that cross back and forth between “Board service” and service as “volunteer staff” during their involvement in their institutions are particularly common in small museums.  This phenomenon is certainly understandable – as institutions with a small professional staff are consequently more dependent upon volunteer staff than larger museums with greater personnel resources.  Many such Trustees provide invaluable assistance to their institutions by also serving as volunteer staff – helping with the implementation of programs and events, the planning and installation of exhibitions, the research and preservation of collections, and other duties typically performed by professional staff at larger institutions.  However, difficulties with this practice can arise if such Trustees fail to recognize when their activities cross the border between Board service and service as volunteer staff and how this shift results in a critical change in their role.

Collective Governance at the Core of Board ServiceThe Board of Trustees of a non-profit museum has a collective responsibility for the governance of their institution, which at its core is a fiduciary responsibility to insure that the museum always acts in the best interest of the public in fulfillment of its mission.  Discussion of the precise nature and scope of Board responsibilities isn’t the focus of this article, but such discussions are readily available to both Trustees and professionals in the field (e.g. from AAM’s online resources, Richard T. Ingram’s ubiquitous Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards, and other diverse sources such as the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits website).

What is essential to this article is the fact that these responsibilities are held and fulfilled collectively by the Board as a whole.  Trustees should never take independent Governance action as individuals as Governance authority rests collectively with the Board as the institution’s Governing Body.  While subsets of the Board (e.g. an Executive Committee) may be authorized to take action on behalf of the Board under certain specified circumstances, even these actions are typically undertaken by a group of a specified minimum size (e.g. a quorum of the Executive Committee) NOT a single individual, often with the necessity of being reported to the Board immediately thereafter.  Should an individual Trustee ever take action both independent of the Board and without specific Board authorization, then this is an indication that either this is an inappropriate action or it is an action taken not in the individual’s capacity as a Trustee, but instead as “volunteer staff.”  By definition, all staff – both professional and volunteer – perform management functions under the overall direction of the CEO.  Consequently, Trustees performing duties as “volunteer staff” should follow the direction of the CEO, or the CEO’s designated representative, when performing these “non-Board” functions.

Potential Problems that Can Arise “Crossing the Border”Thankfully most Trustees who also serve as volunteer staff understand and respect the differences between these two roles and don’t cause any difficulties.  However, for some Trustees crossing this border can become a source of confusion, misunderstanding, and even serious management and governance problems.  The most problematic of these situations usually fall into one of two categories:

  1. Trustees who believe that the collective Governance authority they hold as a member of the Board transfers to their work as an individual member of the volunteer staff. – Situations in this category often include individual Trustees working as volunteer staff being unwilling to accept direction or guidance from the CEO or other professional staff, or even attempting to use their perceived authority as a Trustee to interfere with or try to take control of the implementation of a program, event, or other management level task.
  2. Trustees whose volunteer staff work on implementation of programs, events, or other management tasks lead them to believe that operational decisions about these management level tasks should be subject to prior Board approval. – Situations in this second category typically arise when the border crossing Trustee urges Board colleagues to collectively get more involved in decision making regarding management level tasks. While the impetus to exercise Board authority collectively is more appropriate than trying to wield such authority as an individual Trustee, it may encourage the Board to micro-manage lower level issues that are best left to the CEO and any other professional staff members operating under broad policies approved by the Board.

Addressing Border Crossing Problems:  Dealing with situations in either category can be delicate as the potential for upsetting the individual Trustee(s) involved is high.  What approach is most appropriate will likely depend a great deal on the specific circumstances at the museum experiencing the problem, including the relationships that the CEO has with individual Board members – particularly the problematic Trustee and the Board Chair.  Following are a few thoughts on possible approaches:

  1. Confidential discussion between CEO and Problematic Trustee – It is always possible that the CEO having a friendly confidential discussion with the problematic Trustee can quietly resolve this type of situation. While this is the simplest and most straight-forward approach, its outcomes frequently fall at one extreme or the other (i.e. either a wonderful “quiet” success or a total disaster).  Not all Trustees will be receptive to even a carefully diplomatic conversation with the CEO on this topic.  It is important to remember that the Trustee may view such a conversation as their “employee” criticizing the “boss,” rather than a knowledgeable professional hired to manage the organization trying to provide sound advice based on best practices.  I would only recommend this approach if the CEO is relatively certain based on past positive interactions that the Trustee will not be offended by this approach.  Even then it is may be advisable to confer with a few receptive Trustees to ensure that they understand why the Trustee behavior in question is a problem that must be dealt with.  At the very least doing this either before or immediately after the conversation with the problematic Trustee may insure that there are a few understanding voices in the room should the conversation yield results toward the “total disaster” end of the spectrum and become a topic for subsequent discussion by the Board.  Such cautionary preparations may be essential should such a discussion take place in executive session without the CEO being present.
  2. Enlist the Assistance of one or more other Trustees – Another option is to speak confidentially with one or more receptive Trustees to enlist their help in quietly addressing the problematic behavior. This approach might be particularly effective if another Trustee has an influential or close relationship with the problematic Trustee.  An approach by a fellow Trustee, particularly if that Trustee is respected by the problematic Trustee, is more likely to be well-received due to its peer-to-peer nature, than an approach by the CEO.  However, this option also carries risks as involving another Trustee may conversely increase the problematic Trustee’s embarrassment, precisely because the issue is no longer a confidential matter known only by the CEO.
  3. Request the Help of the Board Chair – The option with the greatest likelihood of success in resolving the problematic Trustee behavior is for the CEO to discuss the problem with the Board Chair and enlist the Chair’s assistance in dealing confidentially and diplomatically with the problematic Trustee. However, while increasing the chances that the problem will be successfully resolved, involvement of the Board Chair means that the Trustee’s problematic behavior is no longer a relatively confidential matter between the CEO and the Trustee, or the Trustee and a respected Board colleague.  Consequently, this option further increases the possibility of an open break with the problematic Trustee.  If the Board Chair is the problematic Trustee, or is otherwise unlikely to assist the CEO with this problem, then it may be necessary to move to the final option.
  4. Bring the problem to the Board for open discussion – This should probably be considered the proverbial “nuclear” option and consequently should be avoided unless the problematic behavior is sufficiently serious and there is no other way to resolve the situation. A careful CEO would probably have some private discussions with selected Trustees most likely to be receptive to the CEO’s concerns about the problematic behavior in order to prepare for this open discussion.  With such preparation the likelihood for a successful resolution of problematic behavior is increased; however, unfortunately open Board discussion of the problem almost guarantees turning the problematic Trustee into an enemy of the both the CEO and the organization.


John E. Coraor, Ph.D.
Cultural Management Partners LLC

Retooling the Performance Review


Does your museum conduct Annual Employee Performance Reviews – that classic workplace encounter in which each anxious employee meets with their supervisor to be “graded” on how well they met performance expectations during the past year and receive comments on any areas needing improvement?  Do you find these reviews to be gut-churning experiences for both parties?  Do these reviews often seem to be a waste of time, failing to result in substantive positive changes in work performance or effectiveness?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you might find the following suggestions to be of interest.

Frequency of Performance ReviewsHopefully your museum’s employees receive constructive feedback from a supervisor (either formally or informally) more frequently than once a year.  If not, then there is undoubtedly a great deal of good hard work that has gone unrecognized for many months, as well as some errors, false steps, and inefficiencies that may have gone uncorrected.  Whether it is informal or structured – regular, ongoing communication between employees and their supervisors about what is going well and what isn’t is an essential element of an efficient work environment.  While a formal written review is advisable at least once annually in order to create a written HR record, some institutions are moving to more frequent reviews – semi-annually or even quarterly.  Ideally formal reviews – and their documentation – are merely a summary of ongoing informal constructive feedback delivered regularly on a weekly or even daily basis as it is warranted.

Focus of Performance ReviewsThe classic performance review process is inherently hierarchical focusing solely on individual employee performance, which inevitably makes the experience angst-ridden for the employee and often for the supervisor as well.  While discussion of individual employee performance is certainly essential, consider broadening the focus of performance reviews to encompass a more balanced two-way discussion, including other elements of the work environment that can impact employee performance.  One approach can be to assess employee performance in the context of assessing the status of project(s) for which that employee has some responsibility.  How is the project going and how is its progress impacted by various factors (e.g. available financial support, facility limitations, visitor response, marketing efforts, as well as the employee’s own performance).  The supervisor should focus as much on how the institution can better help each employee do their job more efficiently and effectively as on the employee’s own performance.  Discussion should encompass strengths and accomplishments as much as it does weaknesses and areas needing improvement.  Making the review communication a two-way discussion where the employee is encouraged to suggest changes that will either make their job easier or improve the impact of the project respects the professionalism of your employees and may result in some valuable suggestions.

Inclusive and Comprehensive ReviewsIt is in the best interest of the museum to ensure that performance reviews are conducted regularly for ALL employees.  Infrequent reviews and/or reviews which focus only on problematic employees increase the institution’s vulnerability to claims of inequity in employee practices, in addition to resulting in lost opportunities for recognition of both positive and negative employee performance.

Of course, performance reviews should also include the museum’s chief employee, the CEO.  Here too it is particularly important to envision the review process broadly as an institutional assessment involving a two-way discussion between the Board of Trustees (or an appointed subset thereof) and the CEO, which includes discussion of the CEO’s performance within this broader context.  Frequent frank discussions by the Board and CEO of both institutional successes and shortcomings will tend to reduce the likelihood of such CEO reviews becoming unhealthily tense or confrontational.

Finally, it should not be forgotten that the Board of Trustees itself should engage in regular assessment of its own performance and by extension the performance of its individual Trustees.  Typically this task is undertaken by a Board Governance Committee, often through a process of Trustee Self-Evaluation.  Such assessments are opportunities for acknowledging exceptional Trustee performance and encouraging less engaged Trustees to either step up their participation or vacate their Board position to make way for appointment of a more actively supportive individual.


John E. Coraor, Ph.D.
Cultural Management Partners LLC

The Art of the Effective Board Meeting


Meetings of an institution’s Board of Trustees are the context in which most of the Governance work of a museum typically takes place.  Yet how many times have Trustees and staff left a Board meeting thinking that the past hour was largely a waste of time that accomplished very little.  Following are some ideas for making your Board meetings more effective:

The Real Work Happens Before the Board Meeting Begins:  What takes place prior to the actual Board meeting is essential to having a successful meeting.  Here’s a list of work that, if done prior to the meeting, can make your meeting more effective:

  1. Do the Heavy Lifting at Prior Board Committee Meetings – Whether it’s review of the proposed operating budget for the coming year, consideration of prospective Trustee candidates, or discussion of a particularly difficult policy issue, prior consideration of these topics by the appropriate Board Committee at a separate Committee meeting will help ensure that they have been thoroughly researched and considered. This should significantly streamline the subsequent full Board discussion and approval process.
  2. Spread the Load in the Agenda – Vary the people presenting agenda topics to make the meeting more interesting and to engage more people in this process. For example, ask Board Committee Chairs to present their Committee’s agenda items, and request that senior staff present topics when appropriate, instead of always depending upon the CEO.  Always confirm presenters prior to releasing the draft meeting agenda, and make sure that they have what they need to make a thorough, but concise, presentation.
  3. Distribute Agenda and Supporting Materials in Advance – The meeting agenda – listing each discussion topic, the presenter, and whether Board approval is sought on this issue – should be distributed in advance. Listing the expected start time for each agenda item can also be helpful in setting an expected pace for the meeting, making it easier to see when prolonged discussion on one issue threatens to hijack the agenda.  When distributed, the agenda should be accompanied by any supporting materials associated with the agenda topics (e.g. minutes of the prior meeting, financial reports, draft policies or contracts to be approved, Committee reports, etc.).  Distribution of these materials should be sufficiently in advance that Trustees can be expected to have reviewed all materials prior to the meeting (I recommend one week in advance).  (NOTE:  If advance distribution is via e-mail, it is best to also have printed copies of all materials on the table at the meeting, as even Trustees who diligently review all e-mailed materials may not print them out.)

Additional Suggestions:

  1. Place Time-Critical Approvals Near the Top of the Agenda – Agenda items that need formal Board action at a particular meeting in order to comply with either an internal or external deadline should be placed near the top of the meeting agenda to better ensure that action is taken even if discussion of a later issue hijacks the agenda.
  2. Consider Using a “Consent Agenda” – Institutions that have multiple items needing relatively routine Board approval might consider using a “Consent Agenda” for their quick approval. A “Consent Agenda” is essentially a list of routine actions presented for collective approval by a single vote of the governing body without discussion.  Typical “Consent Agenda” rules enable any Trustee to, solely upon their request, move any item from the “Consent Agenda” to the regular agenda in order to allow for Board discussion on that item.  Approval of the “Consent Agenda” is typically one of the earliest items on a meeting agenda.
  3. Single Issue Agendas – When Boards are confronted with particularly complex or difficult issues that demand more lengthy discussion (even after prior consideration by the appropriate Board Committee) they may wish to consider dedicating most, if not all, of a meeting’s agenda to the discussion of this single issue in order to resolve it expeditiously (rather than having to explore it repeatedly at two or more successive meetings).
  4. Avoid Rehashing Information Included in Advance Written Materials – If a written Committee Report, or other written materials, are provided to Trustees sufficiently in advance of the meeting, then presentation of that agenda item at the meeting should assume that Trustees have reviewed this advance material and NOT re-present it in full. A concise presentation of the major conclusion or recommendation from this material should be followed by opening the issue up for questions and discussion.  If a Trustee raises a question that was already covered in the written materials, either the presenter or the Board Chair should politely note that this was covered in the advance materials (which are also on the table in front of each Trustee), provide a very brief answer, and ask if there was anything the Trustee didn’t understand in the advance materials that needs further clarification.  If this policy is followed politely, but firmly, Trustees should get the message that review of provided Board materials prior to the meeting is essential to informed participation in the meeting.  (NOTE:  Following this policy is NOT for the faint of heart and should have the prior approval and support of the Board Chair to best ensure compliance.)

  5. Inject a Bit of “Mission” into Every Meeting – Board meeting agendas are frequently packed with very dry governance issues somewhat removed from direct fulfillment of the mission of the organization (e.g. review & discussion of financial statements, budgets, institutional policies, fundraising plans, prospective Trustee candidates, etc.). It is often helpful and even refreshing to devote a brief portion of each Board meeting to a core mission-oriented activity that reconnects Trustees with the institution’s primary mission.  Consider taking 15 minutes of the meeting agenda for one of the following types of activities at every meeting:
    • View recent or proposed collection acquisitions along with some cogent remarks by the curator about these objects and their relationship to the museum’s mission and collection.
    • Engage Trustees in a brief participatory educational activity emblematic of the kind of exercises used in a current museum interpretive program.
    • Have a curatorial staff member lead a brief discussion about an element of a current exhibition not already familiar to Trustees.
    • View a brief video clip from a recent educational program that gives Trustees a sense of how the museum connects with the program’s target audience.
    • Give a brief presentation about a collection object that recently underwent conservation treatment.
  6. Contentious Issues – Some particularly contentious issues may generate considerable discussion and debate at a Board meeting and threaten to hijack the meeting agenda. While appropriate research and consideration of the issue at a prior Committee meeting can help reduce this possibility, it doesn’t guarantee elimination of the problem.  Consider whether the Board has enough information to come to an immediate decision or whether the issue should be referred back to the appropriate Committee for further discussion and exploration of all feasible options.  While further consideration outside the current Board meeting may be helpful if prior Committee consideration was incomplete or inconclusive, sometimes Board disagreement on a given topic is inevitable and it is best to press on for immediate resolution in order to avoid repeating the same debate at the next meeting.
  7. Encourage Full Trustee Participation – In order to ensure a fully engaged Board, it is helpful to encourage every Trustee present at the meeting to participate. Make sure that there is an opportunity for everyone to express their views during discussions.  If it is noticed that a Trustee has not contributed at all during a Board meeting, it may be helpful to specifically ask that Trustee for his/her thoughts on the topic under discussion.  Even if the Trustee has nothing substantive to contribute at that time, being asked for an opinion helps to signal that his/her input is not only welcome but desired.  This role is typically played by the Board Chair, but is certainly not limited to the person in that position.

Meeting Follow-upJust as preparation for a Board meeting is critical to its success; good follow-up can similarly help ensure that decisions made at the meeting are promptly and appropriately implemented.  One of the most effective tools for Board meeting follow-up is appropriate documentation of the meeting and its outcomes.  Following are some elements of Board Meeting Minutes that help encourage good follow-up and implementation of approved actions:

  1. Prompt Distribution of Draft Mintues – Don’t wait until the week prior to the next meeting to distribute draft minutes. Immediate compilation and distribution of minutes reminds attendees of any action items that need follow-up and quickly informs absent Trustees of the outcomes of the meeting.  This can help foster prompt follow-up action by all concerned parties.
  2. Highlight “Action Item” Outcomes That Require Implementation – In documenting what took place at the meeting, Minutes sometimes trend toward being wordy. I recommend highlighting meeting outcomes that are Action Items requiring implementation in order to make these expected next steps prominent and easily identified.  Include in the “Action Item” the person(s) responsible for the next step, a brief description of the expected action, and when this next step should be completed.

As Boards of Trustees and their relationship dynamics are even more varied than the institution’s they govern, there is no one universal prescription for successful, effective Board meetings.  However, the above suggestions have helped many institutions to make their Board meetings function more effectively.

Happy meetings!


John E. Coraor, Ph.D.
Cultural Management Partners LLC

Succession Planning for Every Museum Professional

Discussion of succession planning in museums most frequently occurs when Boards consider the imminent retirement of a long-term CEO or prepare for an expected transition in Board leadership.  However, a more comprehensive view of succession planning is for it to be an inherent responsibility of every museum professional.

Why Every Museum Professional Should Plan for Succession:  Whether it is caused by a planned retirement, a dream offer from another employer, sudden relocation for the benefit of another family member, long-term leave to deal with an unexpected accident or illness, or one of several other possibilities – every museum professional is eventually going to leave their current position.  As such departures cannot always be anticipated well in advance, the continued fulfillment of the mission of the museum is best served if there is succession planning for each professional position to help insure a smooth transition in the performance of that position’s duties.

The Role of “Procedures Manuals” in Succession Planning:  One effective approach to comprehensive succession planning is for each museum professional to be responsible for drafting and updating a “Procedures Manual” for their position.  While incorporating the broad description of duties found in each position’s “Job Description,” such a manual needs to dive deeper into the position’s duties by fleshing out operational details of how those responsibilities are currently fulfilled.

A useful place to start is to ask yourself what you would need to know if you were someone new stepping into your job tomorrow.  While it will be impossible for you to document everything you know and do in the performance of your job, you need to include both a comprehensive overview of your duties, as well as sufficient operational details that a successor will know enough to carry on with your work.  Typically this will include an annual calendar of when certain duties need to be performed, an outline of the individual steps required for each critical task performed on a regular basis, and, perhaps most importantly, where relevant operational records – both digital and hard copy – can be found.

Regular Review and Updating of your Manual:  Once you’ve completed an initial draft of your Procedures Manual, you’ll need to keep in mind that it should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.  If your museum has an annual performance evaluation process for museum staff, I recommend that you review and update your Procedures Manual in association with this process.  Whether you are thinking about your duties and performance over the past year in order to complete an employee self-evaluation form or to come up with points to raise with your supervisor about why you should receive a promotion for the increased responsibilities you’ve assumed, this reflection is helpful in identifying any changes in duties or procedures that should be incorporated into an updated Manual.

Your direct supervisor or CEO would be wise to require the drafting and maintenance of a Procedures Manual as part of your job responsibilities.  However, even if this isn’t the case, you might consider doing so anyway as a demonstration of your professionalism and commitment to your institution by helping to ensure the continuation of your important duties if and when you are no longer able to do so in person.


John E. Coraor, Ph.D.
Cultural Management Partners LLC

When Board Expectations Exceed Resources

What museum CEO hasn’t encountered runaway Board expectations that far exceed the institution’s available resources?

If confronted with this situation, first take a deep breath and draw some comfort from the fact that your Board’s excessive expectations – while being a common Board problem that you need to deal with – is also an indication that the Board is sufficiently passionate about your institutional mission that it wants the museum to do more.  That commitment is something you can work with.

New Expectations Not Included in Current Strategic Plan:  If you have been diligent in regularly developing a Strategic Plan through a formative process that actively involves the Board, as well as other key stakeholders, then you already have the appropriate mechanism for dealing with these excessive expectations.  Your Plan should have already identified priority goals for both the current and upcoming year along with related strategies and action items for their achievement.  If your current Plan doesn’t include these expectations, then they are clearly “new” and quite literally “unplanned for.”

While changing circumstances can sometimes warrant a change in Plan priorities, such changes should be made only after careful consideration resulting in Board consensus, as any effort to meet unplanned for expectations is likely to detract from the institution’s ability to meet the goals already determined to be current priorities.  Consequently, unless the need for action is clearly urgent, new expectations should be noted for discussion during the next update of the Plan to determine if there is a consensus about their adoption as a future Plan element.

Expectations Included in Current Strategic Plan, But Lack Sufficient Resources:  If the Plan already includes these Board expectations, then hopefully it is comprehensive enough to have also included an estimate of any new resources needed for their accomplishment.  Presumably, the fact that these expectations have not yet been met is because the needed resources have yet to be secured.  Here is where the Board’s commitment to institutional mission and to these new expectations can become a welcome motivating factor in obtaining Board member involvement in the identification, cultivation, and solicitation of new sources for these needed resources.

Expectations in the Absence of a Strategic Plan:  Should your institution lack a current Strategic Plan, then dealing with excessive Board expectations becomes an exercise of “catch up” as you’ll probably need to go through many of the steps involved in formation of Strategic Plan:

  • Rank-ordering the expectations according to their perceived priority.
  • Assessment of the resources needed to accomplish these new expectations.
  • Consideration of potential sources of any needed new resources.

However, once such planning consideration has been undertaken, the Board’s interest in these new expectations again presents an opportunity to engage Board members in the effort to secure resources critical to their accomplishment.

John E. Coraor, Ph.D.
Cultural Management Partners LLC

Cultural Management Partners LLC Presents at Annual Cortland Recreation Conference

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Responding to an invitation from the 68th Annual Cortland Recreation Conference, Cultural Management Partners’ Chief Consultant Dr. John E. Coraor presented “Putting Art in the Park: Cooperative Approaches to Public Art” at a Conference session on November 1st.

In commenting on the purpose of the recent session, Dr. Coraor observed that, “The design and installation of public art is becoming an increasingly common method for enhancing quality of life in our communities through creative placemaking. Whether through the use of artists in designing unique elements of our community infrastructure (e.g. artist-designed gateways, fences, benches, plazas, and playgrounds) or through installation of more traditional “stand alone” artworks, this growing presence of public art is frequently finding a home in our public parks. Parks and Recreation professionals will benefit from a better understanding of the nature and scope of such artistic enhancements, as well as operational knowledge of different artist selection processes, approaches to the installation of public art, prospective collaborative community partners, and options for matching these various components to available resources and project goals.”