We began asking ourselves this question in 2017, a pivotal year: with our Centennial behind us and a major gift of recently unearthed Hopper drawings arriving at our door, we felt awash with potential.
How could we continue to successfully serve as Cape Cod’s most widely attended art museum while keeping the focus on our members and students? How would we balance the sometimes competing priorities of operating this community-oriented museum that was raising its national profile, of being both big and small?
Fortunately, we had incredible support over the past several years. More and more members and students joined, renewed, submitted, and took workshops; The Barr-Klarman Massachusetts Arts Initiative recognized us for our adaptive capacity with a major multi-year grant and Executive development sessions; our partnerships with local organizations like Twenty Summers and the Fine Arts Works Center deepened through collective programming; and friends of PAAM, like you, generously opened your wallets to show that you believed our work was important. This support allowed us to mount ambitious and nationally-recognized exhibitions, like Abstract Climates: Helen Frankenthaler in Provincetown and To Survive on This Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults, and welcome more students from up and down the Cape to our free-of-charge youth programs.
But we all know what happened next: in March, PAAM’s operations came to a sudden halt. We made the difficult decision to close the Museum a few days before that decision would have been made for us. A stunned staff collected their belongings from their desks, and began checking in with each other from home over Zoom. A potluck was cancelled, and two newly-installed exhibitions sat unseen by the public. “What’s Next For PAAM?” became a question that required an immediate response.
From our new home offices, our staff began developing programs and modalities to adapt to PAAM’s new set of needs with creativity and flexibility: exhibitions were moved online, and work from the Napi and Helen Van Dereck Collection was prominently featured in the front gallery, accessible to those walking or driving by; virtual workshops and creative prompts helped keep our members and students engaged, and new plans were hatched for the health and safety of our future visitors. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of front-line workers, from first responders and hospital staff to the employees at the Stop & Shop, Massachusetts reached its Phase III containment goals in mid-July, allowing us to reopen in a limited capacity; we did so with diligence and respect for the safety of our community.
In a short amount of time, PAAM was re-invented as a place both new and familiar. But to keep PAAM operating, we need your help.
Despite the continued uncertainty, this is what we believe we can accomplish in the immediate future: extend the run of our current exhibitions so that more people can see them; offer more virtual workshops and employ local Teaching Artists; keep the staff on payroll; create a reopening nest egg should the Museum need to close again over the winter; and provide invigorating ways to stay connected in the winter months and beyond. With your support, we have been able to continue producing incredible exhibitions, hosting workshops, educating Cape Cod youth, uplifting our artist members, and opening our doors to hundreds of old friends and new members of our PAAM community. The Provincetown Art Colony exists only by virtue of those who sustain it, and financial support is crucial to its survival.
Making your gift today helps to ensure the continued success of PAAM and the longevity of the Provincetown Art Colony.
Thank you, and best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.