Report on the 2011 WFFM Annual Council and General Assembly Meeting
By Marie Senécal-Tremblay, Co-President, CFFM
On April 27-29, 2011, I attended, on behalf of the Canadian Federation of Friends of Museums, the Annual Council and General Assembly meeting of the World Federation of Friends of Museums held in Copenhagen, Denmark. The intent of the following report is to not only to report on this meeting but also to serve as a guide to a typical three-day WFFM Annual Council and General Assembly Meeting for other CFFM members attending in the future.
The WFFM Mission Statement is:
To foster international cooperation between Associations of Friends of Museum in order to promote mutual understanding, to exchange information and to pool the experience acquired with the purpose of intensifying the life and developing the function of such associations to benefit the museums and the public.
From the WFFM website:
It was in Barcelona, in 1967, that Luis Monreal, curator of the Frederic Marès Museum, first conceived the idea of a nonprofit international organisation that would gather the existing societies of Friends of Museums around the world.
On the occasion of the ninth General Conference of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), held in Paris in 1971, Hugues de Varines – President of the ICOM – and Luis Monreal developed the guidelines of the new organisation, a structure entitled to become a creditable counterpart of museum institutions and of their managing agencies, a transnational association open to diverse operative experiences and to the needs of different cultures.
The first International Congress of Friends of Museums was held in Barcelona in June 1972. The assembly was composed of 150 representatives from 24 societies of Friends of Museums worldwide.
In 1975, at the second International Congress in Brussels, the World Federation of Friends of Museums was officially set up, with David Mawson of United Kingdom as its first President.
The 2011 WFFM Council and General Assembly meeting was held at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen, the largest museum of cultural history in the country.
30 people attended the meeting and these included representatives from 14 national federations: USA, Israel, Germany, Italy, Korea, Great Britain, Denmark, France, Sweden, Spain, Australia, Hungary, Singapore and Canada.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
The first day consisted of the opening reception at the National Museum of Denmark, with the Danish Federation as host.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
The group of about 14 convened in the morning at the National Museum of Denmark in a large meeting room overlooking the main hall of the museum for a full day of meetings.
Logistics: Coffee, tea, biscuits were provided. Lunch in the excellent museum Restaurant Julian was also provided for both days. Danish cuisine is amazingly creative, fresh, local, and innovative. It is one of many in Copenhagen with a stellar reputation, as quoted:
Jesper Moeller’s first, fab restaurant, Restaurant Julian, is tucked inside the Danish National Museum and is a favourite Copenhagen lunchspot relishing the unique flavours of Scandinavian cuisine too. Corporate clients have lately been intrigued Jesper’s latest idea linking the venue’s meals to Danish banknotes. Inspired by the archeological finds shown on the new Danish bank notes, Jesper and his team have come up with new dishes, where all the raw materials used are from the exact regions in Denmark, where the relics where found, of course..!
President’s Report by Mr. Danny Ben-Natan
After approving the Minutes of the Council Meeting held in Lisbon, Portugal in May 2010, the president of the WFFM, Mr. Danny Ben-Natan, gave his report. He noted the presence of 3 of the 4 Regional Vice Presidents: Mr. John W. Barnum (VP – North America), Mr. Jean Michel Raingeard (VP – Europe), Mrs. Carolyn Forster (VP – Africa, Asia and the Pacific), as well as the presence of the Secretary-General Elect, Ms. Ana Luisa Delclaux from Spain. He also noted the absence of the Vice President for South America, who had to cancel her attendance at the last moment.
In his report, Mr. Ben-Natan noted that:
- One of the key conclusions of the Lisbon Assembly in 2010 was the decision that WFFM will consult with National Federations (Active Members) in countries where such are established before accepting new Associate Members (local associations or societies).
- There was a consensus to focus membership on Active and Associate members as opposed to Individual members.
- Three new members joined in 2010: Brazil as a national Federation, a museum in Estonia, and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia.
- A Memorandum of Understanding was entered into between WFFM and ICOM at an ICOM meeting in Shanghai to which the WFFM was invited to participate in 2010.
He also noted the end of the two terms (6 yrs) of Lila de Chavez, the WFFM’s Secretary General. A number of other Executive Board positions will also be open for election at the next Annual Council in 2012 in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
In light of this, a new Procedure for the Election of President, Treasurer, and Vice Presidents was tabled and adopted. This was to avoid the uncertainties that occurred in Glasgow in 2009 at the last elections as the bylaws were not clear on specific election procedures. A copy of the bylaws was circulated to all those present.
He also spoke to the financial condition of the WFFM and noted that it is in solid financial shape. It currently has 80 Members.
Lastly, he noted the awarding, at the General Assembly the next day, of a Certificate of Merit by the WFFM to Mr. David Mawson, in recognition of his contribution as Founding President of the WFFM.
Vice Presidents’ Reports
Highlights of each report follow:
Vice-President for the Pacific, Asia, and Africa, Ms. Carolyn Forster (Australia):
Mrs. Forster noted that Australia held its Annual Forum and AGM in October 2010 in Sydney with contributions from 4 museum organizations –the Art Gallery of NSW, the Historic Houses Trust, the National Maritime Museum and the National Gallery of Victoria.
A session of particular interest was one held on Social Media. She noted that the next Annual Forum and AGM will take place in October 2011 at the new Art Gallery of Victoria and she issued an invitation that anyone who might be in Australia at that time would be very welcome to attend.
Vice-President, Europe, Mr. Jean-Michel Raingeard:
The European sector is made up of 23 federations. They did not hold a meeting in 2010.
The French Federation did complete and publish their annual survey of volunteers, which they publish each May. The aim of this survey is to produce statistics and data to support political lobbying efforts, and to give statistics to their member associations to use locally when seeking support and funds. It focuses, among other aspects, on estimating the number of volunteer hours worked across the country, and the number of volunteer events held.
Since 2008, the French Federation has developed a rapprochement with the Curators Association in France, the Association générale des conservateurs des collections publiques de France (AGCCPF) and participated with them in the production of a Livre Blanc des musees de France – an official report produced by the AGCCPF to address concerns regarding the public financial management of museums in France. This collaboration between the French Federation and the Curators Association is important, and illustrates how increased interest, caused by a financial crisis, developed grassroots, public-level support for French museums, aided in part by their friends’ associations.
The French Federation receives a government grant for the publication of an information-sharing and educational magazine called L’Ami de Musée 4 times a year which brings together news from Museums and Friends associations across the country.
A new Young Friends meeting is being planned for September in France. There is the possibility of providing 5 or 6 places in the conference for those wishing to attend from other countries if they can fund their own travel. More details can be obtained upon request.
As 2013 will the year that Marseilles will be the designated the Cultural Capital of Europe and will be opening an important new museum, it was suggested the WFFM Council Meeting that year be held in Marseilles.
Vice-President, North America, Mr. John W. Barnum:
Mr. Barnum reported on the success of the three-nation North American Regional Meeting held April 18-20, 2010. This was the first North American Regional Meeting since 2004, due to difficulties in attempting to hold a meeting in Mexico in 2008 and 2009.
This meeting, while smaller than the 2004 meeting (100 participants), was high in quality. It was attended by over 25 participants, including 2 from Canada, 7 from Mexico, and an equal number of American trustees, in addition to spouses and some observers from the UK.
It is to be noted that Mr. Barnum particularly highlighted the presence of Martha Wilder and Cynthia Armour from Canada, whose who attendance was crucial to ensure North American representation, and who did an outstanding job representing the CFFM. Simply put, he was full of praise for their presence, energy, and quality of contributions to the discussions and proceedings.
He also noted that he was approaching the end of his second 3-year mandate as VP North America, and that a successor would have to be fielded from either Canada or Mexico at the next Annual Council Meeting in Sao Paolo, Brazil in 2012.
The Korean Federation of Friends of Museums presented a PowerPoint presentation describing their recent creation in 2007-2009, and their activities and operating model, which is based on a corporate business / network model. They also gave a presentation to the Council of their programme as Host Federation of the Annual Council and General Assembly Meeting in 2013. This meeting will be held in Seoul, Korea, at the end of April 2013 at the National Museum of Korea and other major Korean museums.
The Italian Federation of Friends of Museums presented the detailed programme for the upcoming WFFM Congress in Genoa, Italy this September 18-23, 2011 in Italian with simultaneous translation into English. A very in-depth and rich programme has been created, and will doubtless be a great experience given the amount of effort, care and attention that is clearly being devoted to it. Carla Bossi – the long-serving President of the WFFM – is Italian and therefore has put considerable clout behind this to ensure a very high level of quality.
We were taken on a field trip by bus, with a detour to see the beautiful waterways and port and catch a glimpse of the Little Mermaid statue, before arriving at Copenhagen’s oldest union hall, which was built in 1879 and opened as the Arbejdermuseet or Worker’s Museum in 1984. An important political symbol for labour in a socialist party dominant country, it is a beautiful space with fascinating exhibits. A light supper at a nearby wine bar concluded the outing.
Friday April 29, 2011 – General Assembly Meeting
After approval of the minutes of the General Assembly held in Lisbon, Portugal in 2010, a summary of the WFFM proceedings of the preceding day was presented to those assembled in the Amphitheatre of the National Museum of Denmark.
Presentation of the WFFM Certificate of Merit
This was awarded to David Mawson for his many years of commitment and involvement in the WFFM, and his role as its Founding President by Carla Bossi-Comelli.
Election of the new Hungarian associate member to the Council and of the new Secretary General was followed by the Treasurer’s Report for 2010 by Murray Tarnapoll (USFFM) and Budget for 2011. All National Federations presented the highlights of their annual reports before the assembled audience, as the Assembly is open to the public.
Australia: Highlighted the details of their successful regional structure model and offered to provide and assist other Federations interested in setting up a similar model. They distributed copies of an 8-page newsletter called Friends Review, which is produced by the AFFM.
Canada: The focus of my report was on the CFFM’s growing policy role, with our participation in Hill Day and our developing relationship with the CMA, as well as our public role in the Simon Brault lecture last fall which involved multiple associations, and the jury leadership role CFFM plays with the CMA-CFFM joint Museum Volunteer Award. I also described the Bishop White Committee, the winner of the 2010 award.
Denmark: Highlighted its role as host of the 2011 Annual Council and General Assembly.
France: Focused on its now well-established survey and its public policy lobbying efforts.
Germany: Distributed a booklet on activities in German museums which focused on a new Young Friends initiative.
Italy: Highlighted the upcoming Congress and its programme in Genoa.
Great Britain: Addressed the challenges it is facing due to a large retiring volunteer base, and the transition that this is imposing on the BAFM.
Korea: Presented its recent creation in 2009 as a result of meeting the WFFM at the ICOM meeting in Shanghai, and its upcoming role as host in 2013.
Singapore: Presented briefly on the work of its mainly expatriate-supported Friends initiatives.
Spain: Through its network of associations, the Spanish friends have hosted seminars on concrete issues, such as how to preserve antiquities in private collections. They have also worked with the Sol Melia hotel chain to develop a program to train its concierges as part of its commitment to sustainable cultural tourism.
USA and Hungary completed the national presentations, with each giving succinct reports on their activities.
A glimpse of the Royal wedding on the museum monitors set the celebratory mood for a delicious closing lunch at the museum Restaurant Julian, and concluded a highly stimulating WFFM Council meeting in the wonderful Scandinavian city of Copenhagen.