The Santa Maria Museum of Flight has added former Santa Maria Fairpark CEO Richard Persons to its board of directors in an effort to increase the museum’s number of outdoor events amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a press release, the museum’s CEO Esmeralda Mendoza remarked that she and other museum leaders are doubtful that the Museum of Flight will be able to revert back to the way it operated before COVID-19, so Mr. Persons’ experience with event planning will be helpful in finding a new direction for events.
“We’re thrilled to have Rich join our board because he has so much knowledge of planning and production of all types of events,” she said.
Mr. Persons left the Santa Maria Fairpark in order to spare the organization the cost of paying his salary, its highest expense, at a time it wasn’t able to make money from hosting events. After retiring, he joined the Santa Maria Museum of Flight’s board to help it with planning new events that will fit pandemic conditions.
Mr. Persons himself is a flying enthusiast who has his own aircraft and is a founding member of the Central Coast Airfest advisory committee.
In addition to his experience at the Santa Maria Fairpark, his event planning experience includes serving as a board member of the California Fairs Alliance, and consulting through his recently formed consulting business Persons/Kress Consulting.
In an interview with the News-Press, Mr. Persons remarked that the museum’s outdoor areas provide a very “dramatic backdrop” for events such as birthday parties, corporate holiday parties, and even weddings. He added that the museum’s modified events are in the works and not yet set in stone.
“I think as we move forward with the planning process, we will figure out what is most advantageous for us in holding events,” he said.
Be that as it may, Ms. Mendoza told the News-Press that the museum does have some ideas of what it would like to do.
These include creating new outdoor exhibits with aircraft on loan and holding special events like inviting kids to learn how to make model engines. The CEO said the latter category in particular is an area that the museum would like to expand into.
“Traditionally it has been more of an exhibit-heavy museum, so we want to bring in more activity-based special events,” she said.
As for the former, the museum is currently in negotiations to get a few aircraft on loan, which Ms. Mendoza wants to rotate every couple weeks to provide visitors something new to see each time they visit.
Earlier this year, the Santa Maria Museum of Flight had planned a small aircraft exhibition, hands-on learning events, and a revival of its car show and barbecue. All had to be scrapped due to COVID-19.
While the museum is well known amongst members of Santa Maria’s aviation community, Ms. Mendoza is hopeful modifying events to fit current circumstances will enable it to broaden its reach beyond its current clientele. She believes Mr. Persons is the perfect addition in achieving that goal
“I think the biggest thing we’ll be able to achieve with Rich on board is reaching out with our local community,” she said.