Monday, February 28, 2011

Museums Advocacy Day

Today (Feb. 28) and tomorrow (Mar. 1) constitute Museums Advocacy Day 2011, when those who believe in the power and necessity of museums converge on Washington, D.C., to let congress folk hear their voices. Here's how the American Association of Museums describes it:

* Museums Advocacy Day is your chance to stand side by side with fellow advocates from your state and congressional district.
* Museums Advocacy Day is your chance to get valuable training and information about how to effectively engage with your representatives and make the case for museums.
* Museums Advocacy Day is your chance to share a powerful message with your Members of Congress and their staff members on Capitol Hill about policy issues affecting the museum field, and the ways your museum impacts your community.

Now, we know it's probably too late for you to go if you haven't already registered, but this economic impact form is a good thing to know about regardless. Yes, museums affect their communities in a multitude of intangible ways, but not everyone is won over by that kind of argument. AAM provides these figures:

On a national scale, museums are economic engines:

* Museums employ 400,000 Americans, according to the American Association of Museums.
* U.S. museums contribute $21 billion to the American economy each year (2008 estimate), encouraging economic growth in their communities.
* Museums rank among the top three family vacation destinations.
* Trips including cultural and heritage activities comprise one of the most popular and significant segments of the travel industry, accounting for over 23% of all domestic trips.
* Visitors to historic sites and cultural attractions, including museums, stay 53% longer and spend 36% more money than other kinds of tourists.
* Quality of life issues contribute significantly to decisions businesses make in choosing to relocate, including access to cultural resources that includes a dynamic museum community. In fact, according to research by the National Governors Association, “It has been shown that the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates over $166 billion in economic activity annually, supports over 5.7 million full time jobs, and returns over $12 billion in federal income taxes annually. Governments which support the arts on average see a return on investment of over $7 in taxes for every $1 that the government appropriates."

Here's hoping MAD '11 is a tremendous success!

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