CHAMP 2015: Advocating for History in Juneau
By Anjuli Grantham
The week of January 26-30, 2015, board members, staff and volunteers from the Alaska Historical Society, Alaska Humanities Forum, Alaska State Council on the Arts, and Museums Alaska joined forces for the second annual CHAMP Juneau fly-in. CHAMP (Culture Humanities Arts Museums Partners) is our concerted effort to share the impact that the arts and humanities have on Alaska with our legislators. We work together to advocate for arts and humanities projects and programming.
AHS has a close relationship with Museums Alaska (MA), and this year is supporting MA in the effort to pass HB 52. This bill provides a pathway for museums and cultural centers to receive state matching grant funds for capital projects. A recent survey showed that 75% of museums that responded were planning for major capital projects in the next 5 years. HB 52 takes the politics out of requesting state funding for museum capital projects. It is sponsored by Rep. Bob Herron from Bethel.
Additionally, AHS is advocating for level funding for the Office of History and Archaeology and the Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums. In this tense fiscal climate, we let legislators know that across the board cuts impact these small programs more than larger agencies.
During a legislative “Lunch & Learn” on Wednesday, AHS board president Rebecca Poulson made all those present pause to think about the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Alaska Purchase. She encouraged us to consider the legacy of the event in communities around Alaska and to come up with projects that will improve our understanding of the period, bolster our cultural assets, and engage all Alaskans in conversations about our past and identity.
Thanks to a grant from the Alaska Community Foundation, MA was able to host advocacy trainer Karen Witter. Karen led several trainings that focused on the nuts and bolts of advocating for museums. All CHAMP delegates benefited from her insight and encouragement.
Finally, after two days of meeting with legislators, we joined together to celebrate our work at the Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities. AHS board member Aaron Leggett received his 2014 award for Distinguished Service to the Humanities, since he was fogged out of Juneau during the ceremony last year. I am pleased to report that the weather held out and all were able to return to their homes on their scheduled flights this year.
Special thanks to Jo Antonson, Marie Darlin, and Rebecca Poulson for joining me as AHS advocates this year. It’s an honor to work with such an articulate and passionate team.