Amada Cruz is the Sybil Harrington Director of Phoenix Art Museum. Founded in 1959, Phoenix Art Museum is the largest visual arts museum in the Southwestern United States. The Museum is dedicated to being a vibrant destination connecting people to great art from around the world to enrich their lives and communities. Throughout the year, the Museum presents festivals, live performances, independent art films and educational programs. The Museum also features photography exhibitions through its partnership with the University of Arizona's Center for Creative Photography in Tucson. In this Member Spotlight, Amada Cruz discusses Phoenix’s unique culture and how CHANGE impacts museums.
How are Phoenix’s culture and museums unique?
The Phoenix arts community is at a tipping point in many ways. We are fortunate to have a diverse, bilingual, socially-aware and arts-focused community surrounding us that is active and increasingly involved and influential with what we do at Phoenix Art Museum. We have more than 50 arts and culture organizations in the City of Phoenix alone that include galleries, artist’s coalitions, art-oriented centers, museums, studios and more. There is a societal recognition that supporting the arts makes for healthier communities, and we intend to make art accessible to everyone in as many ways as possible to further that trend.
The theme of the WMA 2016 Annual Meeting is CHANGE. As you are relatively new in your post, do you have any take-aways or advice for other museum professionals facing a period of major change at their museums?
As a museum professional facing a period of major change, it is important to maintain a strong vision of what you believe your institution will accomplish and the ways in which it can profoundly impact its community. This vision will serve as a guide through decision-making that will advance your organization to new places, audiences and initiatives. Embrace the natural process, and even the discomfort of change that comes with taking on new directions, even when that change is difficult. Staying true to your vision will be your strongest guide.
What are some current trends in public outreach that you find particularly important?
Public programming is a particularly important focus for us. We have been increasing our public programs to reach more audiences: seniors, families, urban professionals, etc. Discovering ways to engage new demographics in ways that appeal to them directly has increased our reach. Creating bilingual museum signage and tours in both English and Spanish is another major outreach initiative for us. A large part of our community is bi-lingual, speaking English and/or Spanish, so we want to acknowledge that and make information easy to consume for all demographics. Our goal to activate Phoenix Art Museum and make it more accessible to all.
What would you like to say to attendees as they prepare for WMA 2016 in Phoenix?
Get ready to see new and inspiring things! Don’t be afraid to explore; there is so much happening that you will have a hard time deciding what to see next. And come hungry; our dining scene is as diverse as our arts community – you will not be disappointed.