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Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

Total Qualifying Score: 8
County (ARC Region): Yes
State (ARC Region): Yes
Q3. IRS Status: Nonprofit – 2
Q4. Parent Entity: No – 1
Q5. 2 or More Full-Time Employees : Yes (as of 12/31/2019)
Q7. Budget Level: $250,001 to $1.5 million – 5 (Last Fiscal Year Actual Income)
Q8. Restricted Reserves: Yes – 0
Q9. CARES Act Funding: Yes – 0
Q13. Participation by Executive: Yes


Washington County Museum of Fine Arts
Hagerstown, Washington County, Maryland 21741

County (ARC Region) Washington
State (ARC Region) Maryland


Q1. Mission:

The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts provides a vibrant place for the presentation and exploration of art of lasting quality for the benefit of a diverse public, through intentional art collecting, lively interpretation, diligent preservation and care, active educational programs, and opportunities for social interaction. 

Q2. How organization aligns with ARC’s Plan & Goals:

The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts is often described as a “hidden gem,” yet is undoubtedly a key cultural heritage asset in the four-state region, enhancing quality of life and providing vital arts education. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and open to the public since 1931, the museum is a cornerstone of the cultural life of this region, and prides itself on providing high-quality exhibitions and programs  comparable to those in much larger urban areas. Over nearly 90 years, thousands of children have benefited from free art classes and from curriculum-focused tours of the collection that use visual thinking strategies to teach critical analysis, build language and literacy skills, practice empathy, and learn more about the wider world. Free general admission provides barrier-free access to differing communities and socio-economic levels. The Museum is actively working towards increased diversity, equity, access and inclusion and has strengthened programming for diverse audiences over the last several years, with successful exhibitions like 2019’s  The Blues and the Abstract Truth, and a strong schedule in place for 2020-2021 that includes Old Master Italian paintings, as well as work exploring the legacy of the Underground Railroad by living contemporary artist Joseph Holston, and a groundbreaking exploration of the first documented African-American artist, Joshua Johnson. The work of the museum provides residents with vital arts and humanities experiences, while adding to the livability of the region for key employers and helping to attract potential development and talent to the area. The museum, through key partnerships with Washington County Public Schools and others, provides education on many levels–from art-making experiences with at-risk youth focusing on personal development to internships with young adults to develop 21st-century skills and contribute to the next generation of arts leaders.

Q3. IRS Filing Status: 501(c)(3)   

Q4. Unit or Chapter of Larger Organization: No

Q5. Employees:

Full-Time/Part-Time Employees: 8/13 (as of 9/1/2020)

Full-Time/Part-Time Employees: 8/13 (as of 12/31/2019)

Current Year Income/Expenses: $808,600/$1,324.964

Q6. Fiscal Year: July-June

Q7. Budget Level

Last Fiscal Year Income/Expenses (Actual): $1,271,594 / $1,410,634

Current Year Income/Expenses (Projected): $808,600 / $1,324.964

Q8. Restricted Reserves (Amount): Yes ($9,175,378)

Q9. CARES Act Funding (Amount): Yes ($170,900)
Received From: Payroll Protection Program (135,900); Maryland Heritage Area Authority (10,000); Washington County Rise Up (10,000); Maryland State Arts Council (15,000)   Date Received: 4/23, 6/16, 6/16, 6/30
For What Purpose(s): maintaining jobs and covering payroll, operational support, stabilization, and support for arts organizations

Q10. Negative Impacts from COVID-19:

Like most business and organizations in the eastern area of the country, the Museum closed on March 13 in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and remained closed until July 20. While the Museum does not charge general admission fees, institutional revenue was impacted because of the loss of associated program income (for classes, lectures and concerts) and the need to delay and reconfigure aspects of our program schedule.

The Museum closed during the highly anticipated annual Cumberland Valley Artists & Photographers Exhibition and was forced to mount its annual Washington County Public Schools Art Exhibition online. The Secret Paris of the 1930s: Vintage Photographs by Brassaï has been rescheduled for fall 2021. Other exhibitions and programs were also either delayed or rescheduled. Our monthly concerts in April and May were canceled.

Now that the museum has reopened we are seeing attendance at about 30-35% of pre-pandemic levels. Although we have, to an extent, successfully pivoted to online programming, some programs are more easily adaptable to online delivery than others. For example, our youth summer camp served 96 happy students online in August, but our June concert (which was broadcast live on Facebook) suffered from low-quality audio, although it has received 1700 views to-date.  

Financially the Museum anticipates that lost revenue will amount to about $71,000 from various income streams, including: lowered enrollment in classes, inability to host large public programs, a decline in donations caused by the economy, loss of facilities rentals, and decline in museum shop sales. During FY19, the Museum had 45,734 visitors from all 50 States, the District of Columbia and 27 foreign countries. Due to the MFA’s closure, the Museum lost one-third of its annual visitors and a large revenue source. The actual MFA visitor attendance for FY20 was 29,789.

Q11. Top Three Concerns:
Revenue shortfall
Reaching our audiences: continuing to adequately serve and support school students, connecting to regular visitors who are still not comfortable leaving their homes, reaching people with our exhibitions and collections.
How do we rise to this challenge dynamically, creatively, innovatively? Can we lead the field during this time of stasis? Can we consistently demonstrate or relevance and importance to the community? How do we do good work, important work, with less resources and less in person visitation?

How Participation in Program Will Address Concerns:

As a new director, I am looking forward to this program as an immersion in thinking with other regional leaders–many of whom will know much more than I do about local resources. I think that the fundraising cohort will be particularly beneficial in terms of getting ideas for helping to deal with our revenue shortfall. The museum has been free to the public since 1931, I am proud of that and want to keep as much of our program available to everyone barrier-free as possible.  

The group conversations will, I suspect, help all of us with creative ideas for meeting service challenges as well–sharing techniques for reaching out to communities and forging meaningful connections with the resources we have available–whether that be a virtual connection or whether it means creating packages of art supplies that people can pick up at the museum, or creating programs that provide relevant connections to current circumstances. This connects to my third concern–trying to forge ahead with grace and strength and the right priorities. How can we really do our work if 70% of our audience is staying home? 

I also think that discussion with others will help us to get a better grasp on the new world we’ve been thrust in, in which m any organizations have had to jump into online work without the thought and deliberation that would occur in “normal times.” I attended a webinar last week that referred to this time as “a great re-set” in which old models for work would not be effective. The “re-set”  was seen as reflecting a new more conscious way of working with people, politics, and the planet as as priorities that nonprofits need to articulate and navigate. 


Q12. Applying as a Proposed Cohort? No

Q13. Executive Director or CEO Will Participate in the Program? Yes

Q14. Top Two Choices for Cohort Instruction:

Course #1 Choice: 1-Fundraising

Course #2 Choice: 2-Long-term Financial Management

Q15. Desired Course Schedule for Cohort Instruction:

#1 Desired Course Schedule: 1-Fall 2020: 11-Week Course (Nov. 9, 2020 -Jan. 24, 2021)

#2 Desired Course Schedule: 2-Fall 2020: 6-Week Course (Nov. 9, 2020 – Dec. 18, 2020)


Name: Sarah Hall, Director

Application Approved by Organization Director or CEO? Yes, Approved by Executive Director/CEO

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