Letter from Erika Sanger and Brian Lee Whisenhunt
We are pleased to share this annual report and express our sincerest gratitude to our members, donors, and sponsors who helped us find spaces and places to gather, create, and support each other’s work in 2021. Together, we faced the challenges of operating in both virtual and in-person environments and treasured the rare moments where we could pause, assess our work, and share our achievements. We are pleased by the progress we made this past year and honored by the new partnerships we forged that will help us shape a better future for museums and museum professionals.
In 2021, we supported positive changes in the field, offered information based on facts, and stopped at every possible juncture to ensure that we included the voices of indigenous and people of color in our decision making. We continue our pledge to help move New York’s museums past “cobbling things together” and “stretching limited resources” to a place where museums thrive financially, serve their communities holistically, and enthusiastically welcome visitors from all corners of our state, our nation, and our world.
MANY’s virtual programming helped us reach museum professionals from 37 states, the District of Columbia, and eight other nations. The number of social media followers grew by 30 percent, the redesigned newsletter helped us increase member engagement, and people clicked on the MANY job board almost 64,000 times. We welcomed 371 colleagues from every county in our state to in-person programming. The joyful sound of people laughing together for the first time in two years will forever echo in our ears.
In June of 2021, the board began to develop a new strategic plan that will guide MANY’s operations from 2022 to 2026. We closed the year in a positive financial position despite setbacks – we did not hold an annual conference and incurred increased program costs by limiting attendance and taking measures to maintain safety in the face of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, MANY had 679 members, a 5% increase from 2020. We raised $1.2M through six major grants that will allow us to directly impact the work of more than 400 museums by the end of June 2022.
State level advocacy efforts in 2021, led to Assemblymember Didi Barret (NY-106) introducing Assembly Bill Number A9710, “An act in relation to conducting a study of public and private museums in New York State.” The study will help inform public policy, increase financial support, and raise awareness of the importance of museums to our state’s communities and to the economy.
We remain optimistic for the future of our museums and continue to pledge our work towards a more equitable and inclusive field. We look forward to working with our new board officers and new board members and thank departing board members who dedicated hundreds of hours in service to the field during their time on the MANY board.
We are eager to explore the ways we can work together to build a stronger, more sustainable and relevant museum community – a community where everyone’s voices are held up together.
Brian Lee Whisenhunt, President, MANY Board of Directors
Erika Sanger, Executive Director
Click here to read the 2021 Annual Report