Cultural policy and museums

upside_down_umbrellaCulture might not be at the forefront of public policy decisions in this country, but nonetheless, there are instances where policies enacted at the local, state, and national government levels affect museums. I’m currently taking a course on cultural policy as part of my graduate program, and am seriously beginning to understanding how important it is for all arts professionals including museum administrators to know where their organizations fit in, per se, to the grand scheme of things in the cultural policy arena. Deaccessioning is the first topic that comes to my mind that I know has been openly discussed in policy proceedings.

ICOM and AAM advocate for museums at the international and national level, and set organization-wide policies that are not necessarily legally binding but bind all museum professionals under codes of ethics.

AAM Code of Ethics

ICOM Code of Ethics

State and regional advocacy networks work hard to get funding for the arts in their respective areas. The Creative Advocacy Network (CAN) is based in Portland, Oregon, and according to its Facebook page, is “a broad coalition of arts organizations, businesses, government, and individuals with a mission to transform how the arts are funded in the Portland tri-county region.”

In my limited time learning about how policy works and involves culture, particularly culture as the arts, it seems that what these advocacy networks are doing can be considered policy as they seek to affect how the government will spend their money in the future, hopefully funneling an increased amount into the arts.

Where do museums fit in? I am trying to figure that out and hope that my museum colleagues will share any information they have about how they have seen their institutions affected by public policy, the actions of grass-roots organizations like CAN, or the organization-level policies enacted by umbrella organizations like AAM. What does cultural policy mean to you? What do you think it should mean to museums and museum professionals?

photo: ovizoon (flickr)


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