“What if I don’t feel victimized by the recession?” said Sylvia Wolf, director of the University of Washington Henry Art Gallery, which had a 27 percent budget cut this year.
“We hired Sylvia, and then we cut her budget,” teased Sally Jewell, a UW regent.
“What if ” is the approach that Wolf uses to inspire her staff to do the impossible. Imagining is the future.
Understand what you are capable of. By embracing challenges, you can discover new abilities.
“What if I do this?” “What if I smile to all of the people coming into Henry?”
Smiles were on the faces of Henry’s staff from the front to the back door when I arrived on May 10.
What if the museum fills the role of art education after public school districts have had to cut all the art classes in their curriculum? What if I collaborate with all the museums’ directors to eliminate duplication of art education rather than competing with each other? For the first time, museum directors in the Greater Seattle area will be meeting this summer to discuss new strategies for collaboration.
Even with the budget cuts, attendance and membership are up at Henry. To draw students, Henry opened a student technology lounge so young people can create all kinds of fun projects on their own. Henry’s lobby is not big, but Wolf said that she has developed plans to transform it into a communal gathering place.
Sylvia is always on the move. Even with less money, you don’t need to waste time in feeling miserable. She and her people can do amazing things by maximizing their brain power to make Henry vibrant, while constantly changing it to fit the needs of the community.
Sometimes, recession is not the actual enemy — complacency is.
Have you visited the Henry lately? ♦