Thank you to all who attended our June 22, 2022, town hall, especially our members, Allied Partners, and Community Partners! We appreciate your generative conversations and insightful questions. We’re happy to share here some highlights from the virtual session. For additional updates about MCN, please see the community update.
Conference & Events
Much of the conversation focused on the conference and events. As expected, the conference remains the heart of the MCN community. While an annual conference will not be held in 2022, there was agreement that meeting in person remains a priority for many. We all want to gather to experience singular MCN moments—conference, karaoke, Ignite!
Various ways to gather were discussed, and the ones that generated the most conversation included: in-person annual conference, in-person annual conference with video streaming, in-personal annual conference with regional streaming hubs, regional meetings, and local meetups.
Many were quick to offer the benefits of hybrid conference models. We can expand the reach of MCN and grow the community worldwide if we offer the conference online. Hybrid models offer a measure of work-life balance. People who are working or have other obligations can still attend sessions; although, balancing conference and work obligations has proven difficult for many. Hybrid models also allow for multiple financial and inclusive entry points, like reduced rates for online attendance, no need to pay for accommodations, and offering the choice to not have to travel. Also discussed were the barriers to in-person only conferences, such as the costs for small institutions and contractors (and, more recently, larger institutions).
Board members indicated that each model also impacts vendors and sponsors. Hybrid and all-virtual models limit the sponsorship opportunities that MCN has historically relied on to cover conference and operating costs. Rethinking the conference model also demands adapting the value-added for sponsors.
Regional events brought to mind recent MCN endeavors—like MCN’s 50th birthday parties and MCNx in London and New Orleans. While regional events provide opportunities to meet in person, they still require a considerable effort to plan and execute despite the limited reach.
Similar to regional events is the idea of small, local events. These events could be low-cost events and serve to take the place of conference receptions, networking sessions, and hallways conversations. Think of an Ignite reception, but with your local MCN community.
While the desire to gather is clear, much of the conversation also focused on the value of the conference and availability of professional development opportunities for institutionally supported members. The return to in-person events is not matched with a return to pre-pandemic professional development funds. Providing substantive justification for museum finance committees to approve conference and event costs is an area for development for the MCN board and program committee.
While MCN regularly conducts strategic planning every three to four years, the board voted last year to cancel the June 2022 in-person planning retreat and revise the process to online committee meetings with the goal of completing a three-year strategic plan by fall 2022. An MCN board committee is currently leading the strategic planning process to reevaluate MCN’s mission and goals, with a continued aim toward stability and long-term sustainability. As part of this planning, we are considering many ideas echoed in the town hall.
MCN has always been committed to covering its operating costs thanks to generous sponsorship and the tremendous in-kind contributions of our volunteers, from serving on committees and working groups to becoming SIG chairs or sitting on the board. These past two years have required even more fiscal prudence, and we’ve completed an exhaustive review of platforms, services, and subscriptions to focus our capacity on critical infrastructure. We are financially viable, but we must continue to raise funds to better meet the evolving needs of our community.
We are a volunteer-run organization, with contractors hired as needed for special and ongoing projects. As such, we currently do not have a fundraising or development officer on staff. However, the importance of this expertise was clear before we began the current strategic planning process. Part of our long term planning will weigh the need with the feasibility of increasing our current bench depth with proven competencies in this area and general management of the MCN organization.
Central to our planning is a focus on how we can leverage and cultivate our resources—financial and volunteer support—while at the same time remain responsive to and advance MCN’s mission and vision for our constituents.
Be part of the conversation
In July and August, Spellerberg Associates will conduct a series of focus groups investigating MCN members’ needs and perceptions. If you are interested in being considered for participation in a focus group as part of this research, please fill out this form.
If you’re interested in taking a hands-on approach to the implementation of the strategic plan, we will be announcing a call to apply to join the board later this summer. SIG Chair elections and requests to join the mentorship program will be coming this fall.
Becoming an MCN member is a way to support the community that may have helped you progress your career, find like-minded colleagues who became friends, or discover a forum for learning. We invite you to become a member today. As a member, you receive access to conference resources, SIGs, and the mentorship program, as well as help support our operating costs–administrative support, tech support, web hosting, membership services, and more. As a volunteer organization, MCN is created by the community, for the community, and always sustained through the community. Thank you for your support!