As the Studio Museum celebrates its 50th anniversary and prepares for construction of our new building, we seek to strengthen our roots and expand our public service in the local community. The Community Advisory Network is a cohort of local residents, teachers, parents, and representatives from social service providers and community-based organizations in Harlem. Through quarterly convenings, we provide a structured platform for local voices to both inform and champion the Museum's future work.
The first cohort of community advisors met from 2017 to 2018, and was comprised of representatives from more than twenty stakeholder groups, including Community Board 10, the New York City Parks Department, the Office of the Manhattan Borough President, the New York Public Library’s George Bruce Branch, churches, schools, fellow cultural organizations, the 125th Street Business Improvement District, and alumni of the Museum’s Artist-in-Residence program.
Year 1 Highlights
During our first meeting in August 2017, we discussed the historical context of the Studio Museum’s founding in 1968 and identified ways that the Museum’s mission and work is deeply informed by its community. Advisors expressed interest in preserving Harlem’s cultural heritage and oral histories, building a local coalition to mitigate the impact of gentrification in our community, and reaffirming the Museum’s commitments to the neighborhood.
In November 2017, our second meeting was about visibility and we shared our goals for inHarlem, our programming initiative designed to engage the community while taking the Museum beyond its own walls. The group discussed how to galvanize new audiences in the immediate areas and increase the visibility of current off-site program offerings.
During our February 2018 meeting on artist projects, advisors heard a special presentation from the Curatorial Department discussing the small- and large-scale artist projects the Museum plans to present through inHarlem. They also discussed the permanent collection reproductions project, and how the Museum can make its over 3,000 object collection more accessible in both public and private spaces.
In May 2018, our fourth and final meeting of the year covered the topic of accessibility. Community advisors and Museum staff worked together to define and discuss the meaning of accessibility in the larger Harlem community. Our discussions led us to identify key priorities, such as centering empathy, consistency, and partnership in the Museum’s institutional plan for accessibility. As a final exercise, advisors and Museum staff drafted a statement on intent, which will lay the foundation for further research and the development of an accessibility plan.