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Museums act as a safe haven for troubling times

Sunday, March 22, 2020
By Andrew Utt
The San Diego Union Tribune

Lux must find ways to minimize the impact on our commitment towards the public in order to continue to promote cultural understanding and diversity

At Lux, we rely upon three pillars, or commitments, to focus our efforts in fulfilling our mission to make art more accessible. They are: Awareness about our programs and exhibits, Education to the public about the artistic concepts we promote, and building Community by bringing people together both near and far.

As humans, we depend upon community interactions. Nina Simon, author of “The Participatory Museum,” states that “when people can actively participate with cultural institutions, those places become central to cultural and community life.” With the onslaught of changes as a result of the current pandemic, Lux must find ways to minimize the impact on our commitment towards the public in order to continue to promote cultural understanding and diversity.

According to the organization Americans for the Arts, for every $1 given by a government organization, the arts produce $5 in tax revenue. Museum visitors take public transportation or consume gas, they eat out, purchase items in stores, and more. When people stop going to museums, they also stop spending money on the economy — it impacts us all.

Museums also have a responsibility to act as a safe haven for troubling times. In the 2012 “Annual Condition of Museums and the Economy” report by the American Alliance of Museums, they found an increase in attendance in the four years following the Great Recession, but also an increasingly strenuous economic situation.

The concern for institutions now is: What happens when we have a decrease in both attendance and economy?

Like the changing landscape resulting from the virus pandemic, museums must also change the way in which they perform their mission. As an institution dedicated to promoting creativity, critical thinking and problem solving, we must adhere by the same rules that we promulgate throughout our community. The result becomes a reinvention of the context by which Lux promotes its three pillars. We become a virtual platform for creative export.

The world was a different place during the Great Recession of 2008. The resources that the internet provided were bountiful, but not as integrated as they are now. In 2020, we have the capacity to easily and economically adapt to evolving technological scenarios. In the for-profit world, this is called a “pivot”; it applies equally to museums in this new decade.

Lux makes this commitment toward pivoting towards a technological renovation of its institution by re-imagining the way that it promotes, educates, and builds community. Our programs will change, our resources will change, and our interactions will change, but our mission and promise to the community will not. What we need from you is your participation in our ongoing programs and your financial support. Help us transform $1 into cultural and educational programming that will last a lifetime.


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