The White River Valley Historical Society was recently chosen to give a presentation to the 46-member Board of Directors for the Mid-America Arts Alliance. M-AAA creates and manages regional, multi-regional, national, and international programs, including traveling exhibitions, performing arts touring, and professional and community development.

In 2011, the WRVHS was one of 44 organizations over a six-state region to be awarded participation in the HELP Advance project. (HELP stands for Hands-on Experiential Learning Project). This multi-year project provides institutional advancement and capacity-building training for cultural organizations in three separate modules: Strategic Planning; Resource Management; and Community Engagement. HELP for small and midsize museums is made possible through the vision and support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency. HELP is conducted in partnership with the Missouri Arts Council.

At the end of the Strategic Planning module, each participant gave a short progress report on how the HELP Advance training had improved their organization. The WRVHS was invited to give their presentation to the 46-member M-AAA Board on June 8th in Bentonville, AR, along with representative organizations for other M-AAA grants and services. In a style reminiscent of speed-dating, President Ingrid Albers and Managing Director Leslie Wyman moved from table to table, discussing the Society’s achievement of goals complemented by a photograph display.

“It was an honor to be chosen to be the organization representing the HELP Advance program for the M-AAA Board of Directors,” stated Wyman. “Our WRVHS Board worked hard to set, and achieve, specific goals while utilizing the skills we learned through HELP’s Strategic Planning module, including partnering with Taney County on preservation and accessibility of their archives, working with three Branson area organizations to open the Branson Centennial Museum, and reconfiguring our building in Forsyth. We’re working now on the second module—Resource Management, which is helping us to think outside of the box as we look at possible sources of funding.”