Whatever guiding philosophy behind show site selection the American Numismatic Association board of governors chooses to adopt at the conclusion of its decision-making process early in 2010, one thing is clear, any decision made by the board except standing pat will drastically change the organization’s future.
In the past the board looked upon the convention like a traveling road show, going from town to town to bring numismatics to people far and wide.
This approach can seem to work from time to time. Public attendance at a National Money Show in Sacramento, Calif., some years back was so huge that I went outside the building to see how long the line was at one point.
Salt Lake City has also generated huge positive attendance numbers for the same show.
Unfortunately, Executive Director Larry Shepherd is telling the ANA board that this consideration alone is no longer good enough. Holding a show in a city that is perceived as a good bourse town and a good auction town are both factors that are viewed as essential in Shepherd’s mind.
He has good reason to believe this, as you would expect from someone who has a background in both a nonhobby business and as a dealer.
This is what he is being told by dealers who pay the bourse fees and the firms that buy auction rights. The future will apparently be more about the money than the past, or they will not come.
Does that seem harsh? Living through internal budget cutting here this year in the midst of the present recession is no fun, but what is the alternative?
Warm and fuzzy activities that you would like to do in a perfect world go by the boards if you can’t find the funds to pay for them.
Bourse fees and auction income from the National Money Show and the World’s Fair of Money represent 54 percent of the operating income of the organization in the annual budget, Shepherd said.
Shepherd also made it clear that he thinks this revenue stream needs defending because he thinks there is going to be a shakeout among the many shows that strive to be of national importance.
He wants the ANA not only to survive, but also to thrive in the new numismatic environment that he sees arising over the next 10 years. You can’t help patting him on the back for feeling that way and trying to come up with proposals to the board that will get us all there safely.
Gone are the days when ANA could pick any city anywhere and simply expect auction firms, dealers and collectors to come and make it a success.
Auction firms now have strong evidence that some cities are better than others to hold major auctions in. They won’t pay to go to cities where their experience says the results will be poor.
Meeting the three criteria of good convention facilities, good bourse town and good auction town will be harder and limit choices.
But a thriving organization, securely funded with a narrower range of convention cities is a far better future than simply to hope for the best with a road show.