On June 28th, the Macon-Bibb County Commission voted to approve an Interim Budget for Fiscal Year 2019 that eliminates all funding for the Museum of Arts and Sciences effective July 1. Unless adjustments are made within the next few weeks, major educational programs at the Museum would be eliminated until new sources of income are found. We will need to influence the Commissioners as they make revisions to the budget between now and late-July. Without stable public funding at a reasonable level, our museums cannot be successful.
Write our Commissioners and ask them to amend the Interim Budget, restore funding for educational service partners, and find another way to balance the budget.
Macon-Bibb County Commissioners:
Valerie Wynn – District 1: firstname.lastname@example.org
Larry Schlesinger – District 2: email@example.com
Elaine Lucas – District 3: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mallory Jones – District 4: email@example.com
Bert Bivins – District 5: firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Allen – District 6: email@example.com
Scotty Shepherd – District 7: firstname.lastname@example.org
Virgil Watkins, Jr – District 8: email@example.com
Al Tillman – District 9: firstname.lastname@example.org
More about the Commissioners: www.maconbibb.us/commissioners
MAS is a valuable regional asset. Thanks to the support of taxpayers, the Museum of Arts and Sciences is one of our state’s finest assets and makes a serious contribution to the economic development and success of this community. With public support – an annual investment of just $230,000 – the Museum is able to design curriculum-supporting educational programs in nearly every subject area, maintain a credentialed faculty, preserve multi-million-dollar collections, and provide an expertly planned curriculum that combines permanent and changing exhibitions and programs for thousands of students and families each year.
Public funding is an efficient use of tax dollars. Proponents of small government recognize the Museum’s use of public funds as an extraordinary example of public-private collaboration. We should be doing more of this, not less. These dollars are leveraged with great success. For every $1 that taxpayers invest, the Museum raises $4 for educational programing. Additional money raised for improvements – like renovations to the planetarium, Discovery House, and grounds – adds to that investment, resulting in a state-of-the-art facility that serves more than 70,000 people and attracts visitors from 45 states each year.
Georgia ranks last for support of the arts. Just a few years ago, combined state, city and county financial support covered 60% of the Museum’s operating budget. Unfortunately, state and local funding of informal education (and particularly the arts) has dramatically decreased during the past decade. State legislative appropriations for the arts have dropped drastically in the past few years from nearly $5 million to less than $1 million. The state of Georgia now is unable to offer stable financial support for the Museum’s educational programming. Currently, Georgia’s per capita state funding for the arts ranks 49th out of 50 states.
Local funds are the only stable source of revenue for the MAS. Without federal and state support, the Museum of Arts and Sciences relies on its partnership with Macon-Bibb County to operate. During FY2018, local public funding of $230,000 covered 20% of the Museum’s annual operating budget. Replacing lost public support is the most critical threat facing museums today. Support from the public sector has allowed the MAS to grow gradually for five decades, ensuring that the Museum’s high quality educational resources were affordable and accessible to all citizens of Central Georgia.
Valuable programs are at risk. If the Interim Budget for FY2019 approved by the Macon-Bibb County Commission on June 28th is not amended, then the elimination of funding would drastically impact the Museum’s ability to serve the region. The Museum could rely on reserve funds to operate on a limited basis, but not for long. The loss of local public funding support will leave an enormous gap that must be replaced with another stable source of revenue if the Museum is to remain an academic resource for students and families. The Museum would be forced to reduce operating hours, increase fees to all partners, cut all free and discounted admission programs, and discontinue some of the community’s most valuable educational programs (like high quality traveling exhibitions, adult education lectures, curriculum-supporting onsite and outreach programs for students, and all programs that serve disadvantaged youth and adults with special needs).
Protect the MAS for all citizens. The Museum might resume its full operation if alternate funding sources are secured; but without public funding, our admission cost would be significantly higher and not within reach of most Macon-Bibb County citizens. Public support keeps admission affordable – and in many cases free – for Central Georgia’s residents. The Museum could be fiscally self-sufficient, but most Macon-Bibb County residents would be unable to access the high quality educational resources offered – resulting in even greater disparity among our citizens. Without public support, admission would be $20+ per person.