Museum name part of strategic plan

Posted on April 19, 2018 by Sonoma Valley Sun

I  want  to  offer  a  little  historical  perspective  to  our  name  change  discussion.  I  returned  to  the  Presidency  of  the  Museum  in  the  Spring   of  2011  and  during  strategic  planning  sessions,  I  suggested  the  name  Sonoma  Art  Museum.  That  name  was  quickly  shot  down  by  the   fact  that  the  Seattle  Art  Museum  had  taken  the  acronym  SAM  early  in  2001.  At  that  point,  we  quickly  moved  to  the  current  choice,  Sonoma Museum of Art. While  there  was  quite  a  bit  of  support  for  a  change  then,  we  received  push  back  from  various  board   members  and  members  who  felt  strong  allegiance  to  the  inclusion  of  the  word  “Valley.”

At  that  time  the  museum’s  finances  were  in   rather  desperate  condition  due  to  the  prolonged  recession  and  we  had  already  used  our  rainy  day  funds  to  continue  our  programing   and  exhibition  schedule.  We  could  not  manage  a  difficult  conversation  about  a  name  change,  and  even  though  many  of  us  thought  it   was  a  good  marketing  and  program  idea  as  well  as  strategically  important,  it  was  necessary  to  terminate  any  further  planning.

Time  moves  on,  and  today  in  2018  we  are  once  again  considering  the  same  name  change.  The  strategic  plan  for  the  museum   identifies  that  in  order  for  the  museum  to  become  stable,  it  needs  to  grow.  That  means  it  needs  to  expand  its  audience  beyond  local   awareness  and  attendance,  and  the  proposed  name  change  grew  out  of  that  economic  necessity.  If  the  museum’s  true  strategic  aim   is  to  invite  a  broader,  more  diverse  audience,  and  if  it  is  committed  to  demonstrating  its  values  of  innovation,  commitment  to   community,  and  supporting  dynamic,  contemporary  art,  the  name  change  will  help  to  telegraph  these  commitments.  For  those   reasons,  as  before,  I  support  the  name  change  to  the  Sonoma  Art  Museum.

It’s  hard  to  overcome  our  personal  histories  and  love  for  SVMA  that  hold  us  back  to  the  very  local  “valley”  construct.  I  have  heard  the   change  referred  to  as  mumbo  jumbo,  but  its  intent  is  based  on  real  data-­‐driven  research.  We  have  built  a  wonderful  and  successful   community  museum,  and  I  feel  that  it  can  be  even  more.  To  achieve  our  goals,  we  must  use  all  the  available  tools  in  our  box.     All  of  our  consultants  have  suggested  a  new  name  so  let’s  not  shy  away  from  listening.  The  Sonoma  Museum  of  Art  is  the  way  to  go,   the  sooner,  the  better.

— Simon  Blattner, Sonoma

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