In 2011, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH) was on the brink of closure.
The MAH didn’t matter enough to enough people, or to the right people, to succeed. Most of our community didn’t even know it existed. Like so many colleagues in museums and libraries, theaters and universities, parks and churches, we struggled for funding, relevance, participation, and support.
And so we started learning what mattered to our diverse community. We started opening our doors widely to new visitors, partners, and experiences. We invited in new voices, made hard decisions, experimented, and changed.
The result was transformative. Within three years, attendance tripled. Three years later, it doubled again. We rebounded from years of furloughs to a strong and growing financial position. And the people walking through the MAH's doors--as visitors, volunteers, collaborators, and donors--started reflecting the full diversity of our community. We became OF, BY, and FOR Santa Cruz County.
Every week we hear from colleagues around the world who want to join this work. Many civic and cultural organizations struggle to engage the full diversity of their communities as staff, board, collaborators, and audiences. Their participants and donors do not reflect the population as a whole. Many want to meaningfully engage their publics but don't know how to do it. We want to help you do it. That's why we're starting the OFBYFOR ALL project.
The MAH is not the only organization using an OFBYFOR approach. We intend to build this as a global movement, with many partners and participating organizations. For now, we're starting with what we know from direct experience and research. We welcome your ideas and partnership in growing the future of OFBYFOR ALL. Join us.