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11th September 2015 Sara Lock

Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History – Business Model Case Study

By: Mark Robinson


A case study exploring how Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History transformed its business model in response to a crisis.

Introducing Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History is an example of an organisation that transformed its business model in response to a crisis.

A loss of community relevance had gradually emerged. The 2008 financial crisis led to a drastic halving of revenue income. The organisation came close to having to cease operations.

The board of trustees worked with other local people to develop a new vision and appointed Nina Simon as Chief Executive to work towards this new vision.

The crisis moment, and in particular the financial aspect, accelerated the adoption of this revised purpose. The need to reduce staffing meant that staffing could be focused on areas most central to the new vision and model. As finances improved, capacity was built in the new direction board members changed early on in the process.

The Business Model

MAH’s mission now is ‘to ignite shared experiences and unexpected connections.’ This mission informs the new business model for MAH, which is driven by the community, the relationships the Museum can build with them, and the uses local people put the museum to.

MAH is now conceived as there to create a stronger and more connected community in Santa Cruz. Visitor numbers have tripled and income has improved hugely.

The business model is now explicitly driven by the relationships the museum creates with its local community. Innovation within the model in terms of Revenue, Key Activities and Key Partners for instance are ‘customer-driven’ - although MAH would be more likely to describe this as ‘community-driven’.

The primary customer segments (groups, visitors, schools) are local, although MAH attracts national funder interest. Despite its location, MAH consciously chooses not to target the tourist market. It would be too costly in marketing terms to attract large numbers of tourist visitors. The local community-focus also serves partners such as the County government well. Tourist-focused activity would fit neither the mission nor the business model.

Download the case study to read on:
Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History Business Model Case Study (PDF)

Published:2015

Smart tags: museum museums innovation business model

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