Keep the name Sonoma Valley Museum of Art

Posted on April 17, 2018 by Sonoma Valley Sun

The Board of Directors of the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art has called for a special meeting of its membership to approve their desire to change the name of the museum.   They advise that they have spent much time and effort since early last year doing research and developing a strategic plan, which includes this change of name.  But they neglected to include the SVMA membership in this process until announcing its plan for the first time in the notice for the annual meeting two weeks before that March event.  Due to an increasing number of objections, the name change item was withdrawn from the AGM agenda.

Since its founding 20 years ago, the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art has followed its mission to become a respected regional center and meeting place for the arts. It has drawn wide attention for its programs, attracted broad audiences and supporters from the Bay Area and beyond and has achieved name recognition and an enviable reputation among northern California museums.

The board feels that the Sonoma Valley name limits the growth of the museum and dropping the Valley and changing the name to Sonoma Museum of Art would bring a broader audience.  New ideas and steps to further grow the museum and its audiences are welcome, but these are matters of marketing and promotion, not of identity.

Changing the name of the museum will cause questions, increase confusion with other Sonoma-named museums and destroy the reputation and trust which has been built up over these past two decades among museum members, foundations, donors, partners and supporters.  And it is unnecessary!  New ideas and marketing concepts can all be implemented without a change of name.

Non-museum members may not have a vote on this matter, but the community whose children receive art instruction by SVMA in their schools and bring their parents to the museum, the local residents who come to the exhibitions with their friends and visitors, the local businesses who sponsor and support the museum, and the weekenders and tourists who see it as another asset of the Sonoma Valley lifestyle – they all have a valid stake in the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art and its present name.

Therefore, as one of the founding members of SVMA, I urge the membership to vote against this change of name.

— Gerry Simmel, Sonoma

4 thoughts on “Keep the name Sonoma Valley Museum of Art

  1. Thank you Gerry. As a long time member of the SVMA, I completely agree with you. The San Francisco based marketing consultant the museum hired is simply clueless, and seems to want to treat the name “Sonoma” the same way folks in SF and the Bay Area treat the name “Marin.” We need to push back on this thinking and take control of our place names. Sonoma Valley is bigger than Sonoma, and Sonoma isn’t synonymous with the entire county. The notion that changing the name will improve fundraising — one of the arguments raised for the change — is senseless.

  2. Yes, thank you Gerry. Funny how the rest of us are courted when the health care district, the sewer district, the water district, the school district (have I forgotten some other district?) – when you all want more of our $$$ in support of your lifestyle. Otherwise? We’re just the poor “leavin’s” out here in the unincorporated part of the valley. Omitting mention of the rest of us in the name of the valley’s museum is just rude.

  3. We all are Sonoma Valley – I agree the name Sonoma Valley Museum of Art should be retained; and not retain out of the area marketing consultants far removed culturally from our community.

  4. We all are Sonoma Valley. I agree the name should be retained – Sonoma Valley Museum of Art… and not retain out of the area marketing consultants far removed culturally from our community.

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