Peace Arch News

Museum’s financial loss causes concern

White Rock Museum and Archives executive director Sharon Oldaker shows plans for the facility
White Rock Museum and Archives executive director Sharon Oldaker shows plans for the facility's revitalization project, which was completed in 2011.
— image credit: File photo

White Rock Museum and Archives’ gift shop is losing double its revenues, according to its annual report.

Members of White Rock council raised concerns Monday about the library’s revenue stream and lack of visitors – seen despite a $1.4-million revitalization of the facility in 2011.

According to the report – presented by leisure services director Eric Stepura – the library is spending $22,145 to run the gift shop, but only recouping $11,000 in revenue.

The financial loss is a cause for concern, said Mayor Wayne Baldwin.

“The gift shop is making $11,000 but in order to make that $11,000, they are spending $22,000, which is not good,” he told Stepura.

Baldwin also noted that the museum’s source of income was based on unreliable sources, such as tax refunds and endowments.

“They’re disappearing and can’t be counted on,” he said. “It’s hard to project your sustainability when you do that.”

The 2013 annual budget for the museum is $181,745, including $92,000 from the city – $85,000 in grant money and $7,000 for city archive storage – which was included in the recently approved five-year financial plan.

So far, the budget has been reviewed by city staff who have issued the first installment of the grant – $46,000 – to the museum.

Stepura told council that museum staff anticipate raising $21,000 through the sale of decorative train plaques.

This year, bronze versions will be offered, as part of efforts to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the train station in White Rock.

However, Baldwin noted that the train plaques are not a sustainable source of income, and suggested museum officials rethink their operating budget and figure out other sources of revenue.

“If you’re going to base your operating budget on something that is not sustainable, like the sale of train plaques, ultimately they’re going to run out of space to put them in and people are not going to donate anymore,” he said.

“That kind of money should be going towards the capital as opposed to operating.”

According to Stepura, the museum recorded 23,000 visitors in 2012.

Coun. Helen Fathers pointed out that is only a fraction of the number of visitors who come to the city.

“It’s not a lot of people, seeing as the museum is open all year,” she said.

“I believe we have 50-60,000 visitors a year, so to only have that many, I think we can improve on that.”

 

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