In 2010, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History was in financial crisis, but they also had an image problem. A community assessment commissioned by the board of directors revealed that, outside from a small group of core supporters, the Santa Cruz community had little awareness of the museum or its work. The board and staff determined that the MAH needed to become a thriving cultural center for the community to be relevant and successful, and the board enlisted Nina Simon as Executive Director to help the museum undergo a radical change. In this interview, she details how the MAH’s financial crisis enabled them to take risks and explore a new model that would help them garner support and build relationships to turn around their finances and establish the museum as a community organization.
To demonstrate how crisis can be the catalyst for reinvention and the exploration of new models, how listening to and engaging staff and community can turn them into your greatest allies, and how the lessons learned during crisis can inform program structure and further institutional growth