Foam very much works along the lines of cultural entrepreneurship: rather than viewing the museum as a fixed entity, the name FoAM represents networks and connections. Its working premise is reaching as many people as possible to connect the museum to the visitors and vice versa. Accessibility of photography is its primary objective; for instance, social media is viewed as an extra exhibition space and the magazine replaces traditional catalogues. In its networks essential questions are dealt with such as “what does photography mean today and what role does it play in the future?”. The network is online- as well as offline based. With studios in Brussels, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Falmouth, FoAM encourages the exchange of ideas, techniques and experiences. Here, new initiatives can be tested while the network can develop activities on a larger scale. While the museum is seen as the hub for a global network, professionals and those interested in photography can contribute in spotting talents and making proposals for new exhibitions.
From Museum to a viable Business
With visitor figures just under 36,000 annually the museum has constantly expanded reaching a peak of 200.000 visitors in 2012. It started in 2001 with a very limited budget which it received from the municipality of Amsterdam. The major part of this grant was invested in the property. Interestingly, it started without a collection. Thus, the museum created a brand identity with organizing exhibitions, offering workshops and publishing the magazine. It was not until 2007 when FoAM started to collect. Now it owns about 450 art-works. Currently, running costs are covered by a unique strategy which places less emphasis on subsidies. Instead, FoAM has created an investment fund where individuals and firms can buy “shares”. Annual dividends are paid not in monetary terms but with exhibition works of the respective year. Moreover, its various projects and revenues generated from the café and the magazine cover for the running costs.
1. Please refer to the fact that the museum started without a collection when developing a brand. Do you think that other start-up arts organizations can learn from this?
2. How the business development strategy help FoAM achieve business return?
3. What is the principle strategies and value that FoAM utilised to achieve wide range of audiences?