By CoinWeek …..
Larry Shepherd, Executive Director of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) talks with CoinWeek’s David Lisot on a series of issues facing the Association in the Spring of 2011.
According to Shepherd, the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Chicago has been a popular location for the ANA convention due to its ample space and convenient location. In fact, the ANA has been able to take advantage of this space by increasing bourse space, creating more room for museum-quality exhibits, and providing free meeting spaces for clubs and professional organizations.
In addition, the ANA actively encourages specialty numismatic organizations to see the centrally-located ANA World’s Fair of Money as a destination to conduct their annual meetings, symposiums, and educational programs.
David Lisot: Larry, the ANA [World’s Fair of Money] is being held in Sacramento this year. What is it like having the convention in Sacramento?
Larry Shepherd: Well, we are very pleased to come back to Sacramento. Obviously, this is the largest state in the Union and it is the capitol of the largest state in the Union. We had a tremendously successful show here in 1999. It was one of the best attended spring ANA conventions of all time and so we are hoping to repeat that performance.
Lisot: The country is still in a bit of a recession right now. How has that effected the ANA membership?
Shepherd: Well, we are down a little bit as you would expect. You know, our membership over the years has historically fluctuated between 28,000 and 32,000 and we are within that range, but we’re at the lower of that range and again that’s not to be unexpected given all the turmoils the ANA came through over the past several years for lawsuits and so forth.
We know that it was a loss of trust that we have to regain with some members and obviously we knew with the deep recession that we were going to experience some loss of membership.
So, given those two factors combined, we don’t really feel that bad, because we are down, but we aren’t down quite as much as most collector-based organizations. We do monitor membership in other types of collector organizations and in many of those we see membership down 30% and even as much as 40%. And so, for us, it’s about a 10% decline and we think that within the range of expectations, given what’s happening.
Lisot: There was recently some resolution with some litigation with the American Numismatic Association. What can you tell us about that resolution?
Shepherd: As you know, we hit a dark period in the ANA. From 2005 up until this last year. With a lot of lawsuits that never should have been filed and back and forth legal issues with the former executive director. And I’m happy to say that have all of that behind us, too. We’ve settled all those cases on terms that we think are favorable to us and we think were justified under the circumstances. And we think justice was done for the ANA, in the last situation. And so, we’re very, very pleased to have that behind us and now we can move forward and not have that in the background, or as a distraction.
Lisot: Speaking of moving forward, there’s an upcoming summer convention that will be held in Chicago. What is that going to be like and what may we look forward to?
Shepherd: Well, we plan for our Chicago conventions to be the greatest coin conventions of all time. We really are building towards those. You may remember that when we announced a few months back, or maybe a year ago, that the American Numismatic Association was going to be moving to Chicago on a permanent basis. And actually that was a decision to move to Chicago, starting in 2013, and it just happens that we are going there this year, also. That was in our prior commitment and we are going to Philadelphia next year and then we come back on a permanent basis starting in 2013.
So, we think that this show will be a good bellwether that will get us started. Over time, with a large convention center in Chicago, we have over 200,000 square feet, which is double what we had at our summer convention in Boston last year. That enables us to do a lot of things that before we couldn’t do. We can expand and we can try a lot of new concepts, a lot of new ideas. That means, we can introduce more of our museum showcase, which we have back here. We can bring spectacular rarities for people to see, more educational programs, more interactive programs…
So, the American Numismatic Association is really trying to add on to the attractions at our convention, that we build around the bourse. So that it’s not just you go there and look at the bourse, which is obviously very important, but we’re going to give you educational programs, educational opportunities, spectacular displays, various activities, and a lot of reasons to come to that show, if you have to make a choice between the shows that you’re going to attend.
Lisot: Best of luck!
Shepherd: Thank you, David. I appreciate it.