The Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz recently posted a job announcement, Museum 2.0: Come Work With Us at MAH as School Programs Coordinator:
We are hiring for a School Programs Coordinator to wrangle the 3,500+ students and their teachers who come to the museum every year for a tour and hands-on experience in our art and history exhibitions.
Normally, I wouldn’t pay much attention to a post like that for a job well outside my field, but I’ve been following what Nina Simon has been doing at MAH, turning it from tiny, mostly ignored, provincial museum (noted mainly for having some decent historical archives of interest to local historians) into a cultural center for downtown Santa Cruz. So I read the post and was interested to see a couple of points included:
- Many families in our area have opted into non-traditional school and educational formats, especially homeschooling. What kinds of programs should we consider providing for these groups?
- Not all learning happens in school. How should we think about the balance between formal programs for school groups and youth-centered programs that happen after or outside of school?
It is not very often that home schoolers get explicitly included in descriptions of jobs for School Program Coordinators. Sometimes a staff member realizes that home school students have more time for museums and day-time activities than schooled students do and thinks up some special activities for them, but rarely are they included as an integral part of a “School Programs” job. Because many home schoolers in other parts of the country rely heavily on informal education at museums (particularly in museum-rich environments like Washington, DC and New York, NY), it is good to see the local museum interested in increasing opportunities for local home schoolers. (I sent a pointer to the job post to a couple of the local home school mailing lists.)
Of course, the job is going to be a challenging one and (like most non-profit jobs locally) an underpaid one. One of the challenges is due to local demographics:
Because 30% of the students in our school district are English language learners (and the majority of those, Latino), we are seeking someone who is bilingual and able to communicate comfortably with kids and adults in Spanish.
Although Nina has done marvelous work at MAH, I don’t think she has yet been successful in integrating the Spanish-speaking community much. On my recent visit, I don’t remember there being any Spanish labels on any of the exhibits (though that may have been my unawareness, as I was not thinking about Spanish-language access at the time). I suspect that the school field trips may be the only time that the Spanish-speaking kids from the city visit the Museum, and I suspect that almost none of the kids from the southern end of the county (which is majority Spanish-speaking) visit the Museum at all. About the only things I remember at MAH involving Latin American culture were mainly cultural appropriations (like Day of the Dead altars for Halloween).
Nina has done a great job at bring in a younger group of people to the museum (essential to the future of the museum, since the traditional patrons of the museum were all much older than me), with events like these:
Remember when we lit up Abbott Square with an organ that breathed fire? With a glowing dance tower? With amazing digital and fire art? So do we. And we’re going to do it again this year when we bring back GLOW on October 18 and 19. We are raising money to make the festival even more amazing, and we’re hoping you can help. Every dollar of this campaign will go directly to artists to support their participation. When you donate, you’ll earn advance tickets to the festival and special perks… including the opportunity to shoot off a flamethrower.
This is the last week to donate. Fuel the fire this October and click here to contribute.
The indiegogo fund-raising campaign only runs until Monday 2013 Aug 5, and they are currently below 60% of their $3000 target. They have a couple of Vimeo videos on the fund-raising site. (The part II video showing the fire dancing and fire organ is worth watching even if you are too cheap to donate.) I considered sticking Vimeo links in my post, but I’d really much rather force you through the indiegogo site.
I admit that I was too cheap to donate more than $25 (not enough for even a free-ticket perk, certainly not enough for the VIP roof-garden admission or the opportunity to shoot the flame-thrower), though they’ll probably get another $5–10 from me for tickets to the GLOW events themselves. I’m hoping that a few of my readers will also contribute a few dollars. The point of a crowdfunding campaign is to be able to get bunches of small contributors like me, without requiring the enormous staff effort that fundraising usually requires. Word of mouth advertising is an essential part of a crowdfunding strategy.