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Jan 15, 2016

County and Its Museum Listening to Public About Leisure-Time Pursuits

Sponsored Content provided by Chris Coudriet - County Manager, New Hanover County Government

We want to know how New Hanover County’s residents spend their leisure time, and to learn more about their preferences for cultural and educational activities. That is why we are encouraging the widest range of people to take an online survey on the subject.
 
The survey is part of a strategic planning process that Cape Fear Museum is undertaking to help it set goals and priorities for the coming years. The museum is part of the county government, one of several important functions that serve residents’ leisure and cultural needs. Others include the public library system, Airlie Gardens, the Arboretum and the rest of the Parks & Gardens Department.
 
Cape Fear Museum’s mission is to preserve and interpret our community’s history, science and cultures. But a mission like that can be interpreted in many ways, depending on who you ask. So we are asking our constituents, the people who support this mission with their taxes – and often with their admission fees –  to tell us what they think.
 
We’re interested in learning how people want to spend their time and what they want to see  in what could be called the “quality of life” category. That covers not just leisure or recreation, but also cultural and educational pursuits. Specifically, we want to learn how the museum is relevant to the community it serves.
 
It takes just a few minutes to complete the survey online, with the option to add comments and suggestions. Anyone who is willing to be contacted by our consultants for follow-up questions can provide contact information. You can click here to go the survey form.
 
To conduct this research, we hired Reach Advisors. It’s a consulting firm that specializes in collecting data to assess the impact museums have on individuals and communities. It would have been easy to contact people who are already on the museum’s list of friends and supporters, but the consultants at Reach Advisors urged us to cast a wider net, getting responses from people who might not be patrons or even familiar with the museum. One way we have done this is to ask nonprofit agencies and civic clubs in the area to promote the survey to their members and supporters.
 
And, of course, as I’m doing right now, by asking any and all county residents to participate!
 
One way we’re thanking groups that help us promote the survey is to share the data we gather. We hope this information will be helpful to their missions, many of which complement and enhance what the county does. One advantage of working with a firm like Reach Advisors is that they have access to comparable data from other surveys they have done nationwide. This will let us – and other nonprofits – compare our results with what people tell similar organizations elsewhere. For example, the consultants will supply the Cameron Art Museum with data about what people in other communities have to say about their local art museums.
 
When the initial wide-net survey is complete, the consults will follow up with more in-depth questions for those who have offered to participate in a second round of research. Those questions will be more focused on the museum itself, and its exhibits and programs. Finally, a third round of face-to-face interviews, asking more pointed questions, will let us hear in detail from a range of stake-holders. These might include some active supporters, but will likely also include people who have no relationship at all with Cape Fear Museum.
 
When the process is finished in June, we will have a long-range plan that will shape the museum’s exhibits, programs and outreach efforts for the next ten years.
 
Cape Fear Museum had its origins in the late 1800s as a repository for historical artifacts related to the role Wilmington and New Hanover County played in the Civil War. Over the years, the collection and the mission grew. The museum’s present home on Market Street was originally a National Guard armory, which has been expanded and enhanced to house a combination of permanent and rotating exhibits.
 
Among the best-known are a large-scale three-dimensional reproduction of the Wilmington waterfront as it appeared in the 1860s, originally part of the private Blockade Runner Museum in Carolina Beach, and a full-size cast of a prehistoric giant ground sloth skeleton, which was unearthed near Randall Parkway in the 1980s. You can find more information on the offerings at Cape Fear Museum at  www.capefearmuseum.com.
 
New Hanover County is committed to progressive public policy, superior service, courteous contact, judicious exercise of authority, and sound fiscal management to meet the needs and concerns of our citizens today and tomorrow. See more at http://www.nhcgov.com.

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