Studio Check In With Paloma Hutton
Paloma, thank you for taking the time to speak with us! Could you please start by telling the readers about your role at the institution?
I am the Membership and Annual Fund Associate, so I oversee our membership program as well as our Annual Fund campaigns and donations. For membership, I help plan member events, package and send membership acknowledgments, and make sure we communicate with members about the status of their membership and that we fulfill the benefits associated with their membership level. For the Annual Fund, I oversee the campaigns that we do for those, which are a mix of a mailed letters, e-mails, and social media posts. Both Membership and Annual Fund gifts go towards the Museum’s general operating support, which is the hardest to find support for, especially Annual Fund, since there are no benefits involved with your donation. Only the benefit of knowing you’re truly supporting the Studio Museum in an insurmountable way!
What is your favorite outcome of giving to the Studio Museum?
Everything that we do is so important, whether it's our Artist-in-Residence program or our education programs, but what’s really important now is the digital space. As we move further into the digital space with our exhibitions, programs, and education initiatives, given this moment, we’ll need support to do this work. Right now, we have to think about acquiring funds to use wherever they're needed most, and this is where I think we need it most right now.
What do you think is an exciting challenge that the department has to consider in the decade ahead?
As a Museum, we’re looking forward to having our new building, but the fundraising landscape has changed since we moved out of the old building. So for the next couple of years, we’re going to look forward to the new building, thinking about how we can expand upon what we’re offering right now. We’re hoping to grow the membership program once the new building opens. That’s our bigger picture thing that we’re thinking about — how can we get ready for the new building opening, and how do we maintain operating at a high level.
Every department has a different busy season. What is the winter like for you right now?
Insanity! It's a really busy time of the year. Calendar year end is always busy because that’s just when people tend to give the most, especially since you have to get your gifts in before tax filing. For the Annual Fund especially, but also for memberships, since people like to give memberships as a gift. We get a lot of those donations this time of year. It’s very busy.
Have you ever received a membership as a gift?
I have not! But I think it would be a great gift—especially if you have a loved one that loves art or lives near a museum.
Every department has its own unique traditions and workflow, but what does the Development team do that feels especially unique? What is a signature Development thing?
We have a weekly department meeting, and someone from the team has to lead the meeting with an opening question. It alternates who it is every week, so you get to hear from everyone, and you never know what the question is going to be on Monday mornings!
What question did you ask when you last led it?
If you could hang out with a cartoon character of your choice, who would you choose?
Great question! So who would you choose?
I originally said The Powerpuff Girls, but I think I would probably change to someone in a Hayao Miyazaki movie — any character, maybe Howl from Howl's Moving Castle.
They are these Japanese animation films that are stunningly beautiful, and the stories are incredible. They’re definitely kid's films, but I grew up watching them, and I continue to watch them as an adult—I’m obsessed. They are excellent.
I know you also love music, so what are you listening to these days?
Oddly I've been listening to a lot of jazz. It isn’t normally what I go towards, but I just watched Nubya Garcia’s Tiny Desk Concert, and it was amazing. I downloaded her most recent album, and I’ve been listening to that. There is also a playlist from Apple Music called UK Jazz and its newer funkier jazz, and I’m really loving it.
We have a lot of artists and administrators at the Museum. Are you an artist as well? And if not, what type of artist would you like to have been?
I am not, but I really wish I could play an instrument. I want to say piano. I took piano lessons when I was little, but it was not good. I think I just gave up. I was like, this is too hard, and I’m out. I would go with piano or maybe some sort of horn. Like when Sampha plays "(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano," oh my god, that gets me. Or Alicia Keys and John Legend, such talented people.
So what was the last activity or moment that gave you pure joy?
Probably when I went home this past weekend. I got to see my wieners (dachshunds)—they bring me lots of joy and snuggles. Anytime I spend time with a dog, I’m here for it. Their names are Ella and Miles, like Ella Fitgerald and Miles Davis, and they are lovely long-haired dachshunds.
They bring me lots of joy and snuggles. Anytime I spend time with a dog, I’m here for it.
What are you most looking forward to doing in a post-pandemic world?
I miss live music so much! I’m really looking forward to being able to go to concerts again. My new year's resolution for 2020 was ‘more shows,’ and look at how that turned out. So, I am really looking forward to listening to live music again. And also traveling.
Who is someone you’d like to see live that you haven’t had a chance to yet?
I’ve seen her already, but I really want to see Solange tour for her latest album, “When I Get Home.” I’m eager to see those songs live! But someone I haven’t seen is Radiohead, that is at the top of my list. I don’t know when they’re going on tour, but I’m dying to see them.
If you could come up with a title for a movie about the year 2020, what would it be called, and what genre would it be?
Oh god, I probably want it to be sci-fi because that's what I like in movies. But they are making a pandemic sci-fi movie now, and it's too much and too soon. I’m bad with names, but maybe something like Coping with Life or Cooped up and Coping—yea, that last one is it!
It is your birthday season—Happy Birthday! What is a stereotype about Sagitarrians that you admit you live up to?
Thank you for the birthday wishes! I think there are a couple of stereotypes I identify with. The strongest two are being loud and also not taking anything seriously. I have a loud laugh, and I laugh at virtually anything because life is just funny, and people and things are weird. Life is too short to be serious all the time. You gotta live a little and laugh a little to make it fun!
Thank you so much for your time.