Community Collaborations: The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History Programming Department’s Use of Collaborations to Meet the Institutional Mission and the Needs of the Communities
Maruska, Brittney Z.
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Maruska, Brittney Z.
Museums have been called on to evolve and adapt to represent the communities they serve and to be a place for community stakeholders. There is a need for museums to be more aware and more responsive to their communities. This research project investigates the process of using community collaborators in one department, the programming department, at one institution, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH). While other museums vary in missions and the communities they serve the MAH’s successful use of community collaborations as displayed in this project, may act as a model. This project was conducted with the following main research question: How do community collaborations allow the programming department at the MAH to meet their institutional mission and the identified needs of their communities? The following sub questions were also used in this research: How are community needs identified? What types of collaborations are facilitated? How does the department evaluate their programming and what information does this provide? The research project was contextualized in a literature review that had the following four sections: the Transitioning Museum, Museums and Community, Museums Meeting Community Needs and Museum’s Programming Collaboration. Then data was collected at and from the MAH through participant observation during the summer of 2012 as the researcher was an intern in the programming department, through document analysis of public and non public documents provided by the MAH’s programming department, and three interviews with museum staff that facilitates programming. Data was then organized in the following categories: The MAH, the Santa Cruz Community and the museum’s Creative Community Committee (C3), the Programming Department, and the Programming Departments evaluations. The MAH is a program driven institution and the Programming Department has five overreaching goals their programming must meet, they are: Meet Community Needs, Invite Active Participation, Build Social Capital, Connect People to Art and Connect People to History. The programming department also only creates programs that are co-‐created; all of their events are done with community collaborators. The research found that the mission is met through the structure the MAH has created; the mission of the MAH is supported by the programming goals and therefore programming that meets the aforementioned goals therefore meets the mission. The research also found that the museum identifies community needs through the use of their community board, C3, experimentation and participation, outreach and programming evaluation. Evaluation plays a key role in defining additional community needs, making sure programs meet the programming goals and ensuring successful collaborations.