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Funding plea for White Rock Museum repeated

The White Rock Museum & Archives needs more funding in order to survive, according to a report to city council. Proponents have made two similar requests. - File photo
The White Rock Museum & Archives needs more funding in order to survive, according to a report to city council. Proponents have made two similar requests.
— image credit: File photo

A report to council on the White Rock Museum & Archives’ past year had a familiar message threaded through the details: the need for more funding.

In recounting the facility’s activities and successes for 2013, both society president Marilena Fluckiger and executive director Sharon Oldaker found opportunities to point out gaps that could be filled if funding needs were addressed.

Council heard the same appeal at least twice last fall.

In October, museum director Paul Oxley asked council to more than double the city’s annual contribution to operating funds, by boosting the amount to $185,095 from the $92,000 that has been allocated historically.

Oxley reasoned the boost was needed to enable the museum to keep pace with public expectations and changing technology.

Fluckiger renewed the appeal in December, following a recommendation by the city’s director of financial services to increase museum funding by $33,000 for 2014.

In the presentation to council earlier this month, Oldaker cited “skinny” resources that forced the facility to operate with eight part-time staff. In listing the variety of exhibits hosted at the museum in 2013 – when more than 24,000 visitors came through the facility’s doors – she told council “we try to be as visible in the community as we can be with our limited hours.”

And in talking about an initiative that generates funds through sales of “museum-blend coffee,” she said it is part of an effort “to be as creative as we can with the manpower we have.”

Fluckiger described 2013 as a “really productive” one, but was blunt in her references to a lack of funding.

The museum is at a crossroads, she said.

“It’s difficult, even unrealistic for us to fulfill the goals with the current budget,” she said.

While the boost included in this year’s budget will help, “we will, however, need to make some modifications to some of the services we provide.”

Cost was also raised as an obstacle when Coun. Helen Fathers asked if museum officials had considered building on the coffee sales revenue by adding a coffee shop to the facility.

Noting funding for the “single-biggest tourist attraction… in our city” is far behind where it should be, Coun. Louise Hutchinson suggested the city’s budget include a “built-in addition” to help close the gaps.

“Both the city and the museum missed the boat along the way,” she said. “I think we missed the boat for 20 years.”

Mayor Wayne Baldwin offered some hope additional assistance may be available “within the next two weeks,” and suggested city staff schedule a meeting with museum officials to discuss ideas.

 

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