December 2, 2010
Open Letter to Jeremy Efroymson, Executive Director of the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (IMOCA):
As I was rummaging through my billfold yesterday, I stumbled across my membership card for the IMOCA. I noticed that my membership expired a few months ago and was surprised I didn’t receive a renewal through email or in the mail. That led me to think about the IMOCA and, from an outsider’s perspective, offer suggestions that might help the organization thrive:
1. Send out membership renewals.
That is all.
No, I kid. But, I do actually have more suggestions; so, if you will indulge me, I will continue.
2. Hire a fund development director. To truly make an organization sustainable, focus must be given on cultivating donors. I am confident I do not have to tell you the importance of developing a broad and strong donor base. Having someone to focus on this area will also allow the director and assistant director the opportunity to be more creative and focused on the art. Ideally, the museum would have a membership/volunteer director, but with limited funds, a fund development director could also assume the role of membership director (and send out my membership renewal!:).
3. Expand your board of directors. On your current website, there are only 13 board members listed. I would expand the board to include 15. I am unsure of the current backgrounds of board members, but remember to draw on not only artists, but business professionals, attorneys, and community leaders.
4. Expand arts education to bring contemporary works and artists into the schools. I note in a recent interview with the Indianapolis Star, you indicate you are a "huge proponent” of arts in the schools. With cuts to school funding and arts programs in schools, it seems the IMOCA is uniquely positioned to fill that gap by securing art for school displays, conducting after school contemporary art classes, and/or classroom lessons involving contemporary artists.
5. Turn donors and/or members into volunteers. In September of 2009, I emailed your assistant director and offered to volunteer in whatever capacity you needed (which was after I tried to fill out the online form with no success). A few weeks later I received a response that the museum was in a transition period and they did not need any volunteers. I can understand being in a transition period, but not having any need for volunteers is pretty outrageous. I hope by now the organization has a volunteer recruitment and retention program, but I see nothing on the IMOCA website about such a program.
6. Develop a strategic plan and/or post such plan on the website. I am unsure if the IMOCA has a strategic plan. With you just coming back to serve as executive director in the last year, now would be a perfect time to develop and implement a new strategic plan for the IMOCA. After such plan is development, publish it to let donors, membership, and the community know what the mission and vision of the IMOCA is and how you will achieve that.
I do believe over the past year, the IMOCA has done some worthwhile and interest shows and the partnerships with the IMA have been a success. The new website and email blasts of events are fantastic. In conclusion, what I am really saying is that the art and art related activities are great, but could be expanded, and the organization could be improved to ensure future sustainability through strategic development.