Spartanburg Art Museum in Spartanburg, SC, to Participate in Accreditation Academy

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Spartanburg Art Museum (SAM), in Spartanburg, SC, has been selected as one of 10 museums from across the country to participate in the Small Museum Accreditation Academy. This is a new initiative funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and assisted by an advisory panel of leaders in the museum field. It is a year-long readiness program to make the Alliance’s accreditation process more accessible to smaller institutions. At the end of the program, the participating museums will emerge with a stronger culture of excellence and be poised to apply for accreditation. Joseph Klem from the American Alliance of Museums writes: “The Academy is designed for high-performing organizations with five or fewer staff members who are striving to meet best practices and achieve accreditation.”

Spartanburg Art Museum has been working hard to re-position itself as a vital component within the cultural landscape of Spartanburg and beyond. Two years ago, Elizabeth Goddard was hired as the Executive Director, and since that time the museum has undergone significant transformation. “When I began there was a palpable risk of failure from a financial, governance, and programmatic perspective. The first year was spent finding the ground and rebuilding an organization that had minimal members, lackluster exhibitions, and weak programs for an increasingly diverse community,” Goddard said. “It is inspiring to see how far we have come.  Knowing that the Board of Directors is as committed as I am to become the destination for contemporary visual art in the Southeast keeps the wind in our sail as we continue to improve, strengthens and build our capacity to serve the community in relevant and meaningful ways.”

Last spring, SAM completed the American Alliance of Museums Assessment Program, which involved months of reflection about everything from finances, collections, governance, and programming. Todd Smith, the professional peer reviewer who spent a few days with the museum staff and Board of Directors last March, commented in his final report: “There is a renewed energy that surrounds the organization, an energy if well harnessed can be transformative for the museum.” SAM also graduated from the Healthy Organization Institute in 2015. A local education program developed by Spartanburg County Foundation, Spartanburg Regional Foundation, and Mary Black Foundation was designed for Executive Directors and Board Presidents to attend together and put a microscope over all aspects of daily and long-term operations.  “These experiences of rebuilding our infrastructure and truly understanding every aspect of the museum’s operations were invaluable for us to move forward,” SAM’s Board President George Nixon said. “SAM completed a strategic plan last spring, and we are energized to become a contemporary cultural leader in the region, serving our community in new and dynamic ways. We are also proud that our Executive Director was named Museum Educator of the Year recently by the South Carolina Arts Educator Association, which demonstrates her professional and personal commitment to education, which is a vital component of our mission.”

The Academy will involve the staff and members of the board as they move through a year-long process of preparation that includes, strengthening core documents, designing an emergency preparedness plan, finalizing a code of ethics, and collections management policies. All of these components are necessary for the accreditation process and signal SAM’s commitment to standards of excellence on a national scale. “Our size does not minimize our dedication to adhering to best practices put forth by the American Alliance of Museums,” Goddard said. “We are thrilled to be accepted into this vital program and look forward to getting started.”

For further information contact Elizabeth Goddard, Executive Director, Spartanburg Art Museum, 220 E. Saint John Street, Spartanburg, South Carolina 29306, call 864/582-7616 x 236 or e-mail to (egoddard@spartanarts.org).

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