If you’re a Member of the Art Gallery of Hamilton, chances are you’re familiar with our Development Officer, Annual Giving & Membership, Grace Moran. Grace is responsible for all things Membership – from planning AGH Member initiatives to securing new partners for our popular Member Advantage program.
In celebration of September being New Member Month, we sat down with Grace to discuss Gallery Membership!
AGH: To begin, tell us how you got started at the Gallery, and what your current role entails.
Grace: Well, I went to school for Art and Art History, so that has always been central to my interests in pursuing a career. I was working in a separate industry when I decided to start volunteering at the Gallery’s Visitor Services. About year after starting, there was a maternity leave opportunity in the Development team, which I applied for, and have been working in the role ever since.
Basically, I handle all the Gallery Memberships. We have fluctuated somewhere between 1500 to 3000 Members in the time that I have been here, so there’s plenty of communication between myself and Members. I keep up with all renewals, welcoming in new Members, and responding to any Member inquiries, compliments, or complaints.
AGH: Speaking to as many Members as you do, what are the big reasons folks sign up for a Membership to the AGH?
Grace: Mainly to support the Gallery I would say. But there are a ton of personal Member benefits I think people love. It’s obviously a little bit different this year, with all of the necessary public safety precautions. So many of the benefits are community-based, such as visiting the Gallery’s Special Exhibitions for free or bringing in guests. You can also use your reciprocal benefits to see other Galleries and Museums for free, or use Member Advantage to get discounts at partner restaurants and businesses throughout the city.
Our higher-level Members receive Canadian and North American reciprocal benefits as well, which is obviously in a bit of a strange state right now, but everyone loves using it when they do travel.
AGH: Do you have a favourite Membership perk?
Grace: Some Membership levels give you the ability to bring a guest in with you to see the exhibitions. The arts are both so personal and at the same time can be so enriched by sharing the experience with others. I think being able to bring someone special in to see our exhibitions with you is an amazing Member perk!
AGH: It’s New Member Month! Does this mean anything extra special for New Members?
Grace: Yeah! We’re doing New Member Month throughout September, so there’s still a week left. It’s for new and renewing Members, so anyone who wants to buy an AGH Membership this month will be entered into a draw for a $200 gift certificate to the Shop at AGH.
For any first-time Members, you also receive an additional 3 months FREE on your Membership. Earlier this year, we ran a promotion for any existing member to get a four-month extension on their Membership due to our temporary closure. We’re just making sure everybody gets the most of their Membership while supporting us through such uncertain times.
AGH: Considering the uncertainty of public life this year, do we have anything special to offer Members stuck at home?
Grace: Definitely! We’ve run two iterations of our new Conversation Pieces program thus far, which is a nice casual Zoom conversation between staff, curators, volunteers, and Members – an intimate setting reminiscent of a conversation that may happen after an Artist Talk or Exhibition Opening – all from the comfort of everyone’s homes. We have a lot of ideas for future conversationalists to come in and discuss topics, including hopes for someone from the Collection or our Art Sales + Services team to talk about how their roles have shifted with a changing world.
New Member Tours will of course be returning when we’re able to do so, potentially in the form of an online New Member Tour with the support of our super passionate docents. There may also be smaller docent-led group tours if we’re able to adhere to social distancing and gathering guidelines. New Member Tours are awesome and we have a lot of long-time Members who like to join in on them to be reminded of some major points in the Gallery’s history. Our Members are really a part of the AGH Community in that way.
AGH: Talk a little about that! What is so important about a Membership base to a public Gallery?
Grace: The support we get through consistent annual Membership donations come with it a sense of being part of this institution. It’s definitely one of the most important forms of financial support we receive, but it also brings together a sense of community throughout both the Gallery and the city as a whole.
Art is therapy! When Members visit to take in all these beautiful and thought-provoking works, their Membership helps to support discounts to workshops and giving art-making opportunities to children in our camps is its own reward.
People who support the Gallery with Membership get to see the exhibitions for free, help preserve our beautiful collection, and support our public programming. But your Membership purchase goes beyond just the direct benefits to yourself – a lot further than people realize!
In my role, it is so uplifting and rewarding to see folks renew every year and purchase higher-level Memberships because, you know they know this goes beyond free admission and a tax receipt. They are really supporting the Gallery.