There are many benefits of being a Museum Member—complimentary admission to all exhibitions, invitation to Members-only events and previews, Museum Store and program discounts—the list goes on.
Probably the most physically tangible benefit of membership is C, the Member magazine. Each issue of C consists of forty-plus pages of cover-to-cover illuminating content—in depth information about the Museum’s collection and exhibitions, artist interviews, and intriguing feature articles. Three editions are produced each year, before being mailed to Crystal Bridges Members across the nation. The process, however, begins long before C lands in the mailbox.
Each edition of C takes about four months to come to fruition.
First comes the planning stage. An outline is drawn, content is decided upon, and assignments are doled out.
Next, the content is written by a number of contributors: the Museum’s Copy Editor, Linda DeBerry; other members of the Communications team, including myself, our Public Relations Manager Diane Carroll, and Communications Director Laura Jacobs; other Museum staff, including curators, educators, or directors; and visiting scholars or guest writers. This step sounds simple enough, but some sections take time, especially the feature articles, which often require weeks of research, interviews, writing, and re-writing.
At this point, the smaller segments are usually submitted for final edits. The features, however, require some extra attention. Once the semi-final draft of a feature has been created, it is typically sent to the curators for vetting and approval. More often than not, the copy returns with a few edits or suggestions for the next draft, but not always… from time to time a full re-write is required. “Sometimes that first draft comes back as: ‘Nope, you missed it completely,’” Linda explained. “Mostly that doesn’t happen, thankfully.”
After the content has been produced, it’s time for the Museum’s Creative Director, Jim Augusto, to work his magic. First, Jim collaborates with Linda to determine what photos we have and what photos we need. Once our image needs are identified, it’s up to me, the Communications Administrative Assistant, to facilitate a photo shoot.
The photo shoot is a process all on its own. Once I’ve managed to schedule a photographer, finalize the shoot list, reserve locations, and track down models, the photo shoot can begin. The shoot itself can take several hours or several days, requiring constant direction from Jim. Then we move on to image review, selection, editing, and finally, layout.
Jim arranges the magazine pages, while Linda gathers information for upcoming events and programs for the calendar from the various players: there are different sources of information for adult programs, children and family programs, culinary programs, special events, membership events, and tours, all of which must be compiled into one vast document. The descriptions of programs are written, edited, and organized, and then “haikuized” (Linda’s word) down to the bare minimum in order to fit into the available space on the calendar. (We’re thinking about redesigning the calendar to better accommodate the ever-growing list of programs, in fact.) Designer Anna Vernon lays it out, with infinite patience and attention to detail.
After the magazine and calendar copy has been approved, collected, edited, reviewed, and laid out, it is reviewed again, altered (usually), reviewed yet again, and after a few more drafts (and reviews), it goes to print. (Before the full run is produced, the printing company provides us with a color proof—we review that as well for good measure.)
Regularly generating a publication of this scale requires the time and commitment of many. Since we began producing the Member magazine in the spring of 2012, written contributions have come from nineteen employees in a dozen departments around the Museum. Photography has been provided by six Museum employees and as many professional photographers.
And, it’s well worth the effort. According to a recent series of online surveys, 100% percent of Crystal Bridges Members consider C to be a benefit of their membership, and the feedback we’ve received reflects that number: “Very good quality and clarity.” “Great recaps; easy facts to remember; written well for any level of literacy.” “I can’t get enough.” Ninety percent of Members claimed that they are likely to recommend Museum membership to others, and with benefits like C, the Member magazine, it’s no mystery why.
Special thanks to everyone whose contributions have made C possible: Jim Augusto, Don Bacigalupi, Matthew Bailey, Catherine Bays, Rod Bigelow, Diane Carroll, Linda DeBerry, Case Dighero, Scott Eccleston, Sandy Edwards, Cody George, Francie Green, David Houston, Emily Ironside, Anne Jackson, Laura Jacobs, Anne Kraybill, Barbara Lenhardt, Jamey McGaugh, Alice Murphy, Kevin Murphy, Alison Nation, Dede Peters, Catherine Petersen, Judy Plum, Janelle Redlaczyk, Shane Richey, Kathryn Roberts, Kiley Robinette, Carly Scheibmeir, Rachael Spiegel, Niki Ciccotelli Stewart, Anna Vernon, Jill Wagar, Manuela Well-Off-Man, Dina Wood, et al.