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Museums and Civic Responsibility

  1. Museums Civic Robert Stein Deputy Director Dallas Museum of Art @rjstein AND responsibility
  2. Museums have a civic responsibility Museums Are: •A Public Resource •Educational Venues •Tax Exempt •Recipients of Charitable Giving •Recipients of Federal Support •Collectors of Cultural Heritage
  3. Clearly museums are trusted According to a study by Indiana University, museums are considered a more reliable source of historical information than books, teachers, or even personal accounts by grandparents.
  4. But are they vital? The 2010 U.S. census reports that only 14.5% of US Adults visited museums in the prior 12 months (Census, 2012). 8%Dallas = 6.5M People - 500k Annual Attendance
  5. Civic Engagement HOW ABOUT INSTEAD? 1.Transforming Access 2.Embracing a Culture of Participation 3.Seeking Out Public Dialog
  6. Transforming Access UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity Article 6 While ensuring the free flow of ideas by word and image care should be exercised so that all cultures can express themselves and make themselves known. Freedom of expression, media pluralism, multilingualism, equal access to art and to scientific and technological knowledge, including in digital form, and the possibility for all cultures to have access to the means of expression and dissemination are the guarantees of cultural diversity. UNESCO, 2001
  7. equal Access to ART Participation in cultural activities, together with access to them, forms the backbone of human rights pertaining to culture. Access is a precondition for participation and participation is indispensable to ensure the exercising of human rights. Annamari Laaksonen, of the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies, 2011.
  8. Bridging the Culture Gap If social inclusion means anything, it means actively seeking out and removing barriers, of acknowledging that people who have been left out for generations need additional support in a whole variety of ways to enable them to exercise their rights to participate in many of the facilities that the better off and better educated take for granted. O’Neill, Mark. 2002. The good enough visitor. In Museums, Society, Inequality, Richard Sandell, ed., 24–40. London and New York: Routledge.
  10. welcoming new citizens
  12. When you can slip into a gallery for just 15 minutes to see a favorite painting, or when parents can take their children without having to budget for it, the museum takes on a societal function. It's no longer just a fortress or an amusement: it's a civic platform, where education and citizenship go hand in hand. For Dallas, a museum membership should be like a library card: everyone should have one, and it should foster an engagement with the museum that goes beyond the occasional visit to a kind of civic pride. I hope it works. Because in a perpetually privatizing world, the kind of civic culture that the Dallas Museum of Art is trying to foster has become rarer than any antiquity. Jason Farago, The Guardian, London, 11/30/2012 WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?
  13. A participatory culture is a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices. A participatory culture is also one in which members believe their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social connection with one another. Participatory culture is emerging as the culture absorbs and responds to the explosion of new media technologies that make it possible for average consumers to archive, annotate, appropriate, and recirculate media content in powerful new ways. Jenkins, Henry. 2006. “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century.” Embracing A Culture of Participation
  14. An information explosion
  15. An information explosion While discrete sources of online information grow without limit The ability to discriminate quality sources is increasingly more difficult
  16. A Pressing need for Digital Media LiteracyArt Museums are the Perfect Place to Learn about Media in all its Forms
  17. Seeking out public dialog
  18. Authoritative Authoritarian authority
  19. A role for museums in civic dialogThere is a growing movement to reinvigorate civic dialogue as vital dimension of a healthy democracy, based on the premise that a democracy is animated by an informed public engaged in the issues affecting their daily lives. Civic dialogue plays an essential role in this process, giving voice to multiple perspectives and enabling people to develop more multifaceted, humane, and realistic views of complex issues and of each other. Yet opportunities for civic dialogue in this country have diminished in recent years, due mainly to polarization of opinion along ideological, racial, gender, and class lines; social structures that separate rich from poor and majorities from minorities; a sense of individual disempowerment; and the overwhelming nature of many of society’s problems. Perhaps most fundamentally, the fact that modern problems usually affect different people in different ways often places them outside of the traditional civic organizations, labor unions, and political parties that organized civic discourse in the past. Barbara Schaffer Bacon, Pam Korza, and Patricia E. Williams, “Giving Voice: A Role for Museums in Civic Dialogue” (paper prepared for a Museums & Community Toolkit, American Association of Museums, 2002).
  20. civic function museums the of has many facets
  21. thank you! Robert Stein Deputy Director Dallas Museum of Art @rjstein