Museum head rebuts mayor’s criticisms
White Rock Museum and Archive’s executive director has countered comments made at a council meeting last month, at which Mayor Wayne Baldwin questioned the facility’s financial viability and Coun. Helen Fathers criticized attendance figures.
Sharon Oldaker – who was previously unavailable for comment – contacted Peace Arch News last week to respond to the criticisms made Feb. 25.
Oldaker noted the museum is not a city-run facility, rather a non-profit society that relies on annual grants, donations and sponsorships from other sources.
Baldwin had been critical of items in a staff report to council, which indicated the museum’s gift shop had $22,145 in annual expenses but only $11,000 in revenue.
The mayor also noted 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,” Baldwin said. “It’s hard to project your sustainability when you do that.”
However, Oldaker said Thursday that gift-shop expenses include part-time staff who not only work at the waterfront shop but perform double-duty at the ticket office.
“In addition to providing merchandise, the staff at the gift shop are the hosts of the museum and the area also acts as the main admission area,” Oldaker said.
“They keep visitors informed about exhibits, services and other information.”
While the executive director didn’t dispute the statistics given to council about the number of museum users – Fathers had expressed disappointment that the museum attracted 23,000 out of 60,000 estimated visitors to the seaside city – Oldaker considered it to be a positive indicator of the museum’s draw.
“That number means a third of all guests and tourists came through our doors, and that’s pretty exciting. I don’t know if any other facility in White Rock would have a third of all visitors come see them,” she said.
“We have increased our membership, increased donations and sponsorships – we’re on a very positive road.”
Baldwin had also noted that revenue streams for the museum may dry up – including the HST rebate.
However, Oldaker said she is confident the government will revert to a GST credit next month, which was in place prior to the province’s temporary shift to HST in 2010.
“I’m not aware of any reason to consider that won’t continue,” she said.