Sunday, January 24, 2010

Historical Society to Open a Children’s Museum

The NY Times reported about one history museum's new approach and plan to engage audiences and increase visitation. Great example of new ways of thinking and an entrepreneurial approach. As the article relates:

When thinking of ways to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon, studying history is not high on the list for most families. Now, in a bid to make history more vivid, alluring and accessible for the Wii generation, an interactive “museum within a museum,” focusing on the lives of young New Yorkers, will open in November 2011 on the lower level of the New-York Historical Society, museum officials said.

The DiMenna Children’s History Museum, as it will be known, is part of the $60 million renovation of the historical society building on Central Park West, Louise Mirrer, the president and chief executive officer of the museum, said this week. The roughly 4,000-square-foot museum has been designed by Lee H. Skolnick Architecture & Design Partnership with a $5 million donation from Joseph A. and Diana DiMenna.

The new museum will focus on the stories of children, from famous figures like Alexander Hamilton, who came to New York as a teenage orphan to attend college, to the boys and girls who hawked newspapers on city streets 100 years ago.

“In schools, history tends to be about figures once they have matured and become important,” Ms. Mirrer said. “But if we want history to become alive for children, what better way to teach them than showing them children from other periods? We want to be on the permanent agenda of children and families in New York.” Read more here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Museums and Lawmakers Mull Sales of Art

The NY Times reported on a recent meeting around recent legislation barring museums from selling off parts of its collection to pay the bills. The recession has forced some institutions to do that — or at least consider it — and members of the New York State Legislature have been trying to draft a bill that would regulate such deaccessioning of artworks and artifacts.

On Thursday representatives from museums in the New York City area came together to debate the issue in a State Assembly Hearing Room in Lower Manhattan — a round-table meeting billed as the first discussion of deaccessioning among state policymakers and museum professionals in a public setting.

Specifically, the meeting was called to give those professionals a chance to weigh in on, and ask questions about, proposed legislation drafted by Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky — in collaboration with the New York State Board of Regents and the Museum Association of New York — that would prohibit museums from using proceeds from the sale of artworks “for traditional and customary operating expenses” (as opposed to new acquisitions, a purpose that is generally considered acceptable).

Introduced to the assembly in March, the bill was prompted by concern that the recession is pushing museums to consider extreme measures. The discussion has noted a number of recent cases, including the National Academy Museum’s sale in 2008 of two Hudson River School paintings to cover operating costs and Brandeis University’s announcement last year that it would close its Rose Art Museum in Waltham, Mass., and sell the collection because of its declining endowment, a plan that the university has since reconsidered. Read more here.

NYCON Dental Program: Your Questions Answered

Have you ever had questions about the NYCON Dental Program, but just haven't had time to call and ask? We know how busy you are! Now you can have your questions about our Dental program answered for you whenever you have time. NYCON has recorded two short (less than 10 minutes) overviews of each of our Dental programs: DHMO and the PPO. Would you like to know the difference? Would you like to know what they cover? How about what they cost? Click here (DHMO or PPO) for the answers and listen while you work! Look for more quick overviews to be posted online soon on: The Flexible Spending Account Program, Life Insurance Program, Office Supplies and Audio & Web Conferencing Discount Programs.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

February 1 Deadline for Nonprofit Learning Program

The South Berkshire County Fund is accepting applications through February 1 for participation in the 2010 Nonprofit Learning Program, which provides intensive training in management and governance to nonprofit organizations.

The South Berkshire County Fund, an endowment of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, will underwrite the cost of participation for one nonprofit group serving the south Berkshire County towns of Alford, Egremont, Great Barrington, Lee, Lenox, Monterey, Mount Washington, New Marlborough, Otis, Richmond, Sandisfield, Sheffield, Stockbridge, Tyringham and West Stockbridge. Since 2005, the Nonprofit Learning Program has trained 140 board and staff leaders of 35 organizations from northwest Litchfield County in Connecticut, and northeast Dutchess County and Columbia County in New York. This is the first year that Berkshire County organizations have been invited to apply.

Organizations participating in the Nonprofit Learning Program create four-person teams of board and staff to work under the guidance of Simone Joyaux, a nationally-known consultant in nonprofit management. They receive four free training sessions and two private, full-day consultations for the organization’s board after the group training is completed, as well as donor communications training with communications expert, Tom Ahern. After successful completion of these components, each organization receives a $2,000 grant to help it move forward based on what the team members have learned.

The participants are chosen through a competitive application process. More information and applications for the Nonprofit Learning Program are available by contacting Berkshire Taconic at or by calling 413-528-8039.

Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation builds stronger communities and improves the quality of life for all residents of Berkshire County, MA; Columbia County and northeast Dutchess County, NY; and northwest Litchfield County, CT. Thanks to its generous donors, in 2009 Berkshire Taconic distributed nearly $7 million in scholarships and grants for programs in the arts and education, health and human services, and environmental protection. Berkshire Taconic is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

National Arts Marketing and Development Conference in NYC

Saturday, March 13 - Tuesday, March 16, 2010 presented by Arts Reach at the Kimmel Center at NYU in New York City

The overall theme for the conference is "Coming Together, Setting the Course: Reinvent Your Future with the New Marketing and Fundraising Strategies of the Next Decade"

Breakouts during the Regular Conference will follow THREE TRACKS, with at least one breakout at any given time as part of the Arts Marketing Track, the Arts Development Track, and the Theater Track. Delegates may follow a single track or "jump the track" as they please. Delegates also are invited to attend the Pre-Conference "E-Marketing" Day, and either of the two Post-Conference Days: "Making the Case for Investment in the Arts" or "The Art of Pricing."

See conference details, including registration and lodging, at
Space is limited.

Monday, January 11, 2010

NY Nonprofit Press Question of the Day: Charity and Banker’s Bonuses

Goldman Sachs is reportedly considering a requirement that its 1,000 highest paid employees donate 4% of their pay to charity each year. The New York Times reports that the bank is about to give out $16.7 billion in bonuses, “bringing average pay to about $595,000 for each employee”.

What do you think? Is this an act of corporate generosity? A PR strategy? Is it the best way for the nation’s wealthy to give back? Or, would increases in taxes on high income individuals be more equitable?

You can share your thoughts by emailing

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

In the Arts, Bigger Buildings May Not Be Better

A recent blog, The Data Stream, discussed the "Bilbao effect," which resulted in an overexpansion of arts and cultural organizations. As the post relates:

Within months of its opening in 1997, Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao had given the language a new term and the world a new way of looking at culture. The “Bilbao effect,” many came to believe, was the answer to what ailed cities everywhere — it was a way to lure tourists and economic development — and a potential boon to cultural institutions.

Municipal governments and arts groups were soon pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into larger, flashier exhibition spaces and performance halls.

Now the economic downturn has reined in a lot of these big dreams and has also led to questions about whether ambitious building projects from Buffalo to Berkeley ever made sense to begin with. Some are arguing that arts administrators and their patrons succumbed to an irrational exuberance that rivaled the stock market’s in the boom years.

Organizations were “blinded by the excitement of what it would be like to have this great new facility,” said D. Carroll Joynes, a senior fellow at the University of Chicago’s Cultural Policy Center.

The recession, he said he believed, is not solely to blame for a recent wave of projects that have been delayed (like additions to the St. Louis Art Museum and the Cincinnati Art Museum); scaled back (like the new building of the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, N.Y.); put into question (the new Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center and the renovation of the New York Public Library’s main Fifth Avenue branch); or abandoned altogether (the expansion of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo).

In Mr. Joynes’s view, “The recession is exposing the weakness of a lot of institutions that were seriously overstretched” before it began.

“It’s exposing poor management and poor planning,” said Mr. Joynes, who is collaborating on a study of 50 cultural building projects completed from 1994 to 2008 and their planning processes. These were situations, he added, in which “nobody actually asked: ‘Is there a need here? If they build it, will they come?’ ”
Read more here.