A program that gives people access to local cultural attractions for a fraction of the price is back after a hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Portland Attractions Marketing Alliance is relaunching their reciprocal membership program in January. A dozen regional attractions are participating, and membership to any one of the 12 organizations means free admission for the member and three guests to any of the other attractions throughout the year.
Elizabeth Nye, from the Lan Su Chinese Garden, said one reason for the pause was that different cultural institutions had varying policies related to COVID-19 protocols. Most had limited hours, and for some, admission was by appointment only.
“When you layer in all these complicating factors that everyone had to navigate in order to operate safely, it was just too much to also be thinking about how to accommodate members from other institutions,” Nye said.
In 2020, Lan Su Chinese Garden instituted a timed entry system which helped control the number of people in the garden at any given time. The timed entry precaution was lifted as COVID-19 restrictions in general lessened, and people started to come back.
Nye said membership revenue dropped 37% from 2019 to 2021, but the numbers have been rising recently. Julie Woodward, with the Oregon Coast Aquarium, said membership numbers at the Newport attraction have recently been the highest they’ve been in 15 years.
The reciprocal membership program relaunch is, according to Nye, a way of thanking members whose financial support was crucial to staying open throughout the past year.
“I’ve just been blown away by how many members we have who have been with the organization since it was started, some now going on 21 years of membership,” she said. “This reciprocal program is what we can do to show our members how much we appreciate them.”
The participating organizations are: the Oregon Zoo, the Columbia River Maritime Museum, the Deepwood Museum & Garden, the Clark County Historical Museum, the Architectural Heritage Center, the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, the World Forestry Center, the Oregon Historical Society, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Lan Su Chinese Garden, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, and the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks & Minerals.