The General Assembly presented the Treasurer’s audited report for approval, and ran into difficulties because it had not been distributed beforehand. A number of mistakes were found immediately and it was sent back for corrections before finally being approved “with reservations” and many abstentions from the floor.
As there will be elections to the Executive Council in 2010, it was decided to extend the deadline for developing candidacies to the end of December 2009.
A progress report on the planning of the next Triennial (General Conference), in Shanghai 7-12 November 2010 included the information that the theme has been modified to “Museums for Social Harmony”. There will be on-line registration from November 2009, and hard copy forms will be being sent out in September. In answer to a direct question, we were informed that there will not be simultaneous translation for the International Committee meetings unless we pay for it ourselves. We must look into any opportunities for sponsorship to pay for this, as it is of course our main purpose in coming to Shanghai to be able to communicate with our Chinese colleagues.
Among other information was the presentation of another volume of the Intangible Heritage Journal, an initiative arising from the Triennial in Seoul 5 years ago. It would be interesting to apply the theme of intangible heritage to costume practices, perhaps to gather information for a contribution.
The vote for the following Triennial 2013 was done electronically, after presentations from Moscow, Milano and Rio. Rio won hands down on the first vote.
The theme “Museums and memory” was chosen for International Museums Day in 2010, this also becoming the overall theme for the Triennial meeting in Shanghai.
Two keynote talks on the impact of the economic crisis on museums were mixed. James Chung presented a talk titled “Looking Forward: Economic Change and the future of American museums”. The change in demographics means that the interests of young people now have more consequence, the loss of donors and benefactors is painful, while the idea that access to cultural property should be free while budget cuts from governments increase. However, there are important undercurrents which seem to be in our favor: museums hold the key to genuine artifacts and living aspects of history. The unique personal impact of “real” history is a marketable commodity. While tourism in the US is down, local visits are up. Young women earn more than young men because of increased education. This generation of women will be key economic drivers reshaping consumer markets in the future. The percentage of adults over 65 will be increasing greatly, and the pursuit of luxury will be replaced by the pursuit of meaning. And museum guests vote three times more than non-museum guests, so political pressure can pay off. If these indicators are put to use, museums do not need to be looking at bleak futures. See the entire powerpoint presentation on the ICOM website, under “documents from the June 2009 meeting”.
There were no recommendations from working groups after the Tuesday presentations on Museums and the global economic crisis as there had not been time for the workshops. This was unfortunately a repeat non-performance from last year, when an excellent 2-hour workshop had been prepared on practical applications of the ICOM Rules of Ethics but which was cancelled because other matters on the agenda ran over time.
The separate meeting of the International Committees met Wednesday morning 9-12.30. Matters of debate were about the financial situation: how the international committees manage their money situation. It has been suggested to ICOM Paris that it be the holder of the Committees’ monies, as there is considerable expense incurred in each committee having its own, but with subaccounts available to the committees’ chairs and treasurers. This is too complicated a matter to be solved easily because of French and international law. But it became clear that the committees do not actually have the legal status to hire staff or pay for projects, as some of the larger committees do. The International committees have inquired about what the actual legal responsibilities are involved in being a committee, what the actual status of the treasurers is, and whose money is actually in the accounts. The committees also discussed which activities are desired, if this is the way the committees will be funded in future. It is clear that committee activities should mirror ICOM objectives. A matter of priority was restoring the funding for the international committees that was reduced, unexpectedly, this year. The matter of research was raised again – a matter for museum professionals which ICOM could support or at least address. In conclusion it was requested that ICOM provide an organizational diagram showing who is now in charge of what, so that we more easily can contact the proper people in the Secretariat. It was again stressed in the report submitted to the plenary that the International committees find it would be a good idea to have one person in the Secretariat dedicated to responding to our requirements (“administrative support provided for the management of International Committees – bank account, budget updates and reports”). Right now that means that we are providing separate reports to ICOM Paris, an extra burden and not the opposite. Special support for publications – electronic or printed – is also desired. An excellent document with 10 special points/questions of vital interest to the International Committees was put together as a result of the meeting, and presented for the entire Advisory Committee the following day. Available on the ICOM website (http://icom.museum/download/june2009/090610_IC_RECOMMENDATIONS.pdf ).
The Director General responded to the issues raised by the national and international committees: Regarding the database: there are “difficulties” which mean that it will not be in working order before early next year. Re the website: it is under improvement. The Secretariat has been reorganized into four sections: Finance & Administration, Communication and Network, Project Management and a resource person for the Ethics Committee. Further information from the Director General is available on the ICOM website in the documents regarding the June meeting. It was intimated that the international committees might be drawn into the fund-raising that will be initiated by the Director General in the coming year.
Katia Johansen, Rosenborg Slot (Chair, Costume Committee)