The Synergy of the Patron Circle

Speed Art Museum Laser Show Big Reveal.

“It’s much more than just giving money,” says Speed Art Museum CEO Ghislain d’Humieres of the museum’s Patron Circle membership. “By being a part of the Patron Circle, you take ownership of the Speed and the amazing versatility of events and offerings that every family can enjoy. This is the new meeting point for all generations and will foster conversation in families. That is so important to me.”

The Speed of course offers membership on several different levels but being in the top three, the Patron Circle, is truly special. Juliet Gray, an active Patron Circle member, believes, like d’Humieres, that being part of the Patron Circle goes far deeper than simply donating to the museum. “Being a Patron Circle member is a way of supporting the museum in a more substantial way than the basic membership,” she asserts. “It’s about supporting the museum, supporting the collection, supporting the upkeep. It’s about being more invested. And with that higher level of membership, we’ve tried to build in some more value so that people feel like, in addition to supporting the museum, they’re also getting something out of it.”

Indeed, there is a myriad of benefits to being a Patron Circle member. “Their gift to the Speed certainly helps with funding programming and being open, but Patron Circle members also enjoy many exciting benefits and opportunities,” affirms d’Humieres. “This includes special programming, first looks at new events and exhibits and, on another level, personal and social benefits as well. For the young professional, this means having a vibrant location for personal and professional networking that is unmatched in Louisville.”

Guests at last year's The Big Reveal, 2015's Patron Circle party.

Guests at last year’s The Big Reveal, 2015’s Patron Circle party.

Part of what d’Humieres speaks of is Social Speed, a cultural gathering presented by Brown-Forman that will take place every second Thursday of the month at the Speed. Social Speed will feature games, art-making, music, drinks and more. And, as Gray describes, Patron Circle members get in on the action in a deeper way than others. “30 minutes before every Social Speed, Patron Circle members will actually be able to have time with a curator or staff person to talk about one or two pieces of the collection,” Gray says. “And that will rotate through all different departments.”

Patron Circle members also are guests of Global Speed and will additionally be invited to a multitude of film screenings. Beyond the Speed, Patron Circle members also have the opportunity to travel as a group; this year’s trip is to the Chicago Art Expo September 22-24.

Furthermore, the Patron Circle and the Social Speed in particular will serve as a way to more robustly engage some of the younger members of the community, which is paramount in the Speed’s long-term vision. “Members of the Patron Circle are young, active and passionate about the arts,” d’Humieres maintains. “They are an important part of the future of the Speed Museum in that you need the next generation of young professionals and young parents to get involved.”

But on a broader level, supporting the museum as a Patron Circle member only reinforces how very important the museum is to the community. “Art and creativity are what binds us all together,” insists Gray. “The expression of art is one of the most meaningful things in our culture … Art has the capacity to transform the everyday, to transport us to other times and places, and to transcend our differences.”

Moreover, the opportunities the Speed brings to its visitors, insofar as things impossible to see elsewhere, are at least part of why Gray has chosen to support the museum at such a level. “Art also is a way that you can experience the world,” she muses. “Thinking of something like the Native American collection – so many of us won’t ever have that opportunity to see Native American culture, but through art, we have a chance to learn about history and culture that is not possible in other ways.”

And Patron Circle members help make these opportunities possible; what’s more, they also get a lot of great benefits in addition to the differences they’re making. From the annual Patron Circle party to Social Speed early admission, there’s always something to look forward to as a Patron Circle member. “The Patron Circle is not just a giving level,” contends d’Humieres. “As Patron Circle members, they are true ambassadors of pride in the Speed and in Louisville. The Speed has been here for over 90 years, and by taking ownership in the Speed, they are actively spreading their enthusiasm for the Speed deeper into the community.”

Photos by BILL WINE