ICOM advises: 6 steps to advocate for museums
1. Establish what you need
Assess the economic impact of the COVID-19 on your own museum and establish exactly what you need to ensure the employment of the staff (permanent and temporary), its daily operations and its programmes. This can be a specific amount of financial aid or concrete social security measures. A specific request will have a much bigger impact than a vague one.

2. Coordinate with allies
We are stronger together. Get in touch with local, regional and national museum organisations, including your ICOM National Committee, to coordinate or join advocacy initiatives. Research other institutions and organisations from the cultural or creative industries sector who would be interested in joining forces. While in lockdown, there are many tools you can use to stay in touch, such as WhatsApp groups, Slack, Zoom or Skype.

3. Build a strong message
Use the SPIT method to create a strong message and maximise its impact:

  • Specific: Know exactly what you need
  • Personal: Personalise your message by explaining how the COVID-19 pandemic affects your museum specifically
  • Informative: Use quantitative data to support your points
  • Timely: Know when decisions will be voted or brought to the floor and get in touch with elected officials beforehand

4. Use powerful data
While a majority of people are aware of the social value of museums, their great impact on local development is not so well known. When asking for financial aid, it is imperative to provide data on the contribution of your museum to the local economy, and to what extent it would be hindered if you museum is forced to reduce its activity or staff. Estimate the economic impact of your museum in its local community, such as indirect jobs and tax revenue. You can consult the ICOM-OECD Guide for Local Governments, Communities and Museums, a tool that can be used by museums to assess and strengthen their existing and potential linkages with the local economy and social fabric.

5. Get in touch with political decision-makers
To make a case for your museum, deliver your message to political stakeholders. Although they may be overwhelmed with many other issues and not respond immediately or at all, it is important to let them know about how the COVID-19 is affecting your museum and what they can do to help. As the confinement measures do not allow in-person meetings, you will have to do it remotely.

6. Stay in touch with the international museum community

ICOM will continue to provide support to the international museum community during the pandemic. We have issued a Statement on the necessity for relief funds for museums during the COVID-19 crisis that you can use to support your points. Furthermore, we have conducted a survey on the economic impact of COVID-19 on museums and museum professionals around the world. Its results provide a global vision of the current situation and can support museums and policy-makers find solutions to the crisis. 

Finally, to effectively strengthen the advocacy strategies enacted by ICOM National Committees, we are currently working on an Advocacy Manual. To make sure the content of the manual is relevant and adequate, we ask all ICOM National Committees to complete a survey on advocacy practices in your country and on the current actions your Committee is carrying out.

If you haven’t participated yet, you can complete the survey