Friends Annual Report 2016-2017

Connie SommersGreetings Friends!
Spring has arrived and we helped usher it in with our glorious Art in Bloom 2017.  Congratulations! This is such an exciting time to be a Friend of the Institute. Our organization’s history is strong and the horizon bright with creative and innovative members. Before the new board takes office July 1st, I’d like to share the past year’s achievements. The annual report follows in its entirety for all members to read. I am privileged you have allowed me to be your President. Thank you.  
Wishing you sunshine and roses.
Take care,
Friends Annual Report 2016-2017
The 94th Annual meeting of the Friends of the Institute is now in session.  
I would like to recognize the past Friends Presidents who are with us today. Jane Nelson, Sheila Morgan, Carol Burton Gray, Linda Goldenberg, Suzanne Payne, Katie Searl, Carolyn Dahl and Pam Friedland. This very special, accomplished group represents 32 years of outstanding Friends leadership.
The past twelve months have been a significant year for our organization. Many new initiatives, through creative thinking and tireless work from outstanding members, will assure the Friends organization’s viability as we approach our 100th birthday in 2022, and beyond. Our goal is to be an innovator and leader not only in the Twin Cities but in the nonprofit world. I have no doubt we will accomplish our goals because we are privileged to work in such a supportive environment, thanks to the staff and administration of Mia. The Friends are fortunate to have the special friendship of Duncan and Nivin Macmillan Director and President of Mia, Kaywin Feldman; the guidance of Director of Advancement and liaison to the Friends, Julianne Amendola; the support of Maurice Blanks and the Mia Trustees who all stand with us.
Two weeks ago we were hosting thousands of guests at Mia for the 34th annual Art in Bloom. To be exact we had a record setting crowd — 52,000 guests in four days! We were all enjoying flowers, lectures, shopping and good cheer throughout the museum. AIB is the largest fundraising event of the Friends and takes over 300 volunteers and 165 pedestal florist to make sure our spring gift to the community is the best ever! The financial figures are not finalized but we are hopeful with the funds raised we will be able to bring more children to the museum, support more programs for Mia and expand the business of the Friends. Thank you to all who helped make AIB 2017 a success.
AIB was not the Friends only fundraising event this past year. We successfully offered two new opportunities to enjoy Mia. On October 7 the Friends hosted a cocktail reception and then heard Kaywin Feldman share her thoughts on the Art of Wonder.  On December 1, the Friends hosted a second cocktail reception during the Martin Luther exhibit. Deanna Thompson, a published Luther expert and Hamline University professor spoke to our guests about Luther from her perspective as a woman. Many of our guests experienced a docent led tour of the Luther exhibit. Both evenings were most enjoyable and quite successful.
The Friends continued the tradition of free monthly lectures. The lectures were sponsored by the generous gift of the Mark and Mary Goff Fiterman Lecture Fund. I’m sure none of you will be disappointed with today’s lecture or the line-up of speakers beginning the fall of 2017.
The Friends Transportation Fund has had a successful year bringing thousands of students to the museum. All students receive a docent led or Art Adventure tour. There is nothing like the excitement of school buses pulling up to the front of Mia and discharging all the excited school children for a visit to Mia. It may be noisy but it’s good noise. For the first time, the Friends will be bringing children to Mia in the summertime under a new initiative called the Transportation Program. Friends are partnering this summer with the North District YMCA to bring 16 buses of summer campers for a visit. This is exciting for the Friends and we hope to expand the program to other non-profits, like the Boys & Girls Club, with the funds raised through AIB 2017 Fund-a-Need.
And more good news. The 2016 AIB Fund-a-Need was so successful we were able to triple the number of scholarships awarded last summer to underserved campers for Mia’s arts camps and will be able to bring campers to the arts camps this summer, 2017, too!
The Friends Children’s Programs funded the second phase of the Community Mural project at Centro Tyrone Guzman Community Center. Many of the Friends went to its dedication last fall. The multi-generational Latino Community Center now has a beautiful, colorful facade created by their members fronting Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis. The Friends are committed to sponsor a third Community Mural to be completed in the fall 2017 in the Hope-Whittier neighborhood. Also this fall, a group of Friends will be trained to be Art Adventure “Picture People” at Whittier School. These volunteers will share the marvels of art and the kids will come to Mia for a visit. This is all very exciting for our neighborhood.
The Friends Endowment for Education contributes nearly 12% to Mia’s educational department’s budget, Learning Innovation. Mia’s LI department and the Friends organization are dedicated to providing programming for children and adults.
The Friends Membership Committee successfully started an Outreach Initiative this year. It developed into an active sub-committee and next year the Outreach Committee will be a new voting voice on the Friends Board. The plan is to reach out to other Twin Cities like-minded organizations and explore what we can do together to make ourselves stronger. So far, Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra have come to the March lecture and members of the Swedish Institute joined us for the April lecture. Just this Monday a group of Friends went to a Kinder Konzert at Orchestra Hall. We hope this is the beginning of mutually beneficial relationships.
There are summer plans for the Friends to do an exchange of speakers with the Minneapolis Woman’s Club. We are calling this initiative The Art of Power/The Power of Art. On Friday, June 2 Friends are invited to a luncheon at the Basilica of St Mary’s with guests from the Vatican. We will visit a special exhibit: A Day in the Life of the Swiss Guard. That’s just what’s happening this summer. Stay tuned and check out Friends Newsletter for future opportunities to participate in Outreach activities.
Another successful idea that came out of the Outreach Initiative was “Buy-a-Bus.” It started as a wonderful gift idea for Christmas giving. However, it proved to be so popular that we have extended the idea of purchasing a bus for other celebrations in the year like birthdays or maybe Mother’s Day! And with each bus purchased a tiny toy bus is awarded to you for your donation. This endeavor allows the Friends to bring 50 children in a bus to Mia.  
The Friends Art & Architecture trip is in June. Twenty Friends will “Skedaddle off to Seattle” for a wonderful, fun trip to that beautiful city, their museums and other points of interest. Safe travels Friends!
The Friends Only committee plans events for your enjoyment of the museum, to meet new friends and get acquainted with Mia curators. In the fall we had Friends #101, informing new and present Friends members about our organization’s activities, followed by a tour with Assistant Curator of Textiles Nicole LaBouff, focusing on textiles. We also toured the Guillermo del Toro exhibit with Curator and Head of Contemporary Art, Gabriel Ritter. The Friends Only Committee organizes the docent led pre-lecture tours each month and the Friends book club.
We could not possibly plan all these exciting Friends events without the support, professionalism and tireless enthusiasm of our Operations Manager, Kate Smith. Kate, along with her team of Project Assistants, Lydia and Jackie, are the liaisons to our members, our Board and to Mia’s staff. They are dynamic young women and a joy to work with. Stop by the office any time to say “hi.” Kate keeps the candy dish full of chocolate just for you.
My term as Friends President will conclude next month, on June 30. I want to thank you all for your Friendship and support over the past two years. I do not look at the completion of my job with sadness, but with happiness for the privilege I have had, being your President. Thank you!

Connie Sommers