I grow more convinced every day that unique partnerships and creative incentives are the key to acquiring and retaining members. With 1stfans, Shelley and I spent the last year watching as this program, which started as an idea, became a series of events and relationships-both online and in the galleries–between the Museum’s staff, the artists in its collections, and its members. Because the benefits of 1stfans are different than (and not as plentiful as, I might add) regular Museum membership, we wanted to come up with a way to make renewing membership fun and rewarding those who supported 1stfans in its first year. We looked back at the success of the Swoon printing event last January, and decided that it would be great if the second year of 1stfans could start with some art as well. To that end, we have partnered with artist Valerie Hegarty and the awesome folks at 20×200.com to make a benefit print for 1stfans. Valerie, whose work is in our permanent collection and currently on display, was suggested to us by Eugenie Tsai, our John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art.
When we got in touch with Valerie, who lives in Brooklyn, she agreed to make the artwork and decided she wanted to create a piece based on a painting in our collection, Asher B. Durand’s First Harvest in the Wilderness. Coincidentally, this painting was commissioned in 1855 by one of the Brooklyn Museum’s founders to serve as a cornerstone of its collection. Now, in 2010, it’s serving as inspiration for a new artwork that will be used to help grow the Museum’s membership program.
The only place Shelley and I ever hoped to produce the prints with was 20×200, which is a remarkable and successful site that offers curated, limited-edition prints and, occasionally, does benefit editions for non-profit institutions. 20×200’s motto of “Art for Everyone” is perfectly aligned with our goal of creating 1stfans as a way of making museum membership more accessible. Jen Bekman, who founded 20×200 and heads up their operations as part of Jen Bekman Projects, generously agreed to produce and donate all of the prints and any profits to the Museum.
The prints will come in three sizes: small (8″x10,” edition of 200), medium (11″x14,” edition of 500), and large (16″x20,” edition of 20). The small prints, which would normally sell for $20, will only be available from 6-8 p.m. at the Museum during February 6th Target First Saturday to anyone who signs up for or renews their 1stfans membership. The medium and large prints, which will sell for $50 and $200 respectively, will be sold beginning the week of February 8th. People who are signed up for the 20×200 newsletter will have the first (and possibly, the only!) opportunity to pick up a print before they are released on their website, 20×200.com. The medium and large prints will each come with a coupon code to get a free year of 1stfans membership. The real benefit to the museum, then, will lie not in the money earned for the museum but in the members acquired and renewed via this print. I think that is fitting start to the second year of 1stfans, since our goal with this program is to grow relationships with people, not with their wallets.
Will Cary was the Brooklyn Museum's Membership Manager from January 2008 to May 2010. In addition to making sure all Brooklyn Museum Members got the most out of their Membership, he also developed the 1stfans Membership program in order to grow the Museum’s community of supporters. Before joining the Brooklyn Museum in January 2008, Will worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Will graduated from Williams College with a degree in Art History and Economics. Will now works in Membership at the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine.