Making the Parksville Museum financially viable will be the biggest challenge of the new Parksville and District Historical Society board.
Taking over the helm as the society new president is Margot Banks, who, as the treasurer, relayed the bad news about the society’s dwindling finances to concerned members at its annual general meeting, held at the museum on Saturday, Nov. 18.
Tension was high at the meeting, with some members upset and disappointed over the indefinite closure of the museum and termination of staff on November 3. There were multiple questions raised over the decision and also the actual finances of the society, which operates the Parksville Museum.
Prior to stepping down as president, David Haynes explained why the decision was made. He stressed the society was operating way beyond its means. Revenues were down and were not enough to cover the salaries of the two full-time staff.
“At this point we just needed to stop the salaries so we could stop the bleeding for a short time,” said Haynes, who added that the board members who attended an Oct. 24 meeting debated the decision at length and that it was not an easy one to make.
“We need a better way to attract people to the museum as this model is not sustainable as it is,” he explained. “Hence, we are restructuring. The new board will determine how to do this. We, as a board, are unhappy about this. But it is our responsibility to look at the whole picture for the museum. The facilities (and) finance are paramount and we will not be able to reopen if we continue as we were going with employees at this time. We fully expect to have employees in the future.”
The museum’s income this year totalled $86,607, with 55 per cent of the funds coming from grants and fundraising efforts. Income from rentals, admissions, tours and the gift shop represent only 25 per cent of the total revenue. Salaries for the employees amounted to $102,848 and make up the bulk of the society’s total expenditures of $189,220.
“We need to find ways to substantially increase the revenue for more operations,” said Banks, who pointed out that for every dollar the museum brings in, it spends twice that amount. “We have a great museum here. We have a lot to offer people. We have a lot of plans and things to offer the people. So we need to keep moving forward on that.”
The society still has more than $600,000 in its coffers from a large bequest received nearly a decade ago, but that total has dwindled from nearly $1.5 million in 2012, as reported during that year’s society AGM. Banks said the society cannot continue to raid that account to pay for any shortfalls in its finances as it will lead to the permanent closure of the museum.
Banks was nominated to take over as president and she won by acclimation. She indicated that she is committed to making the museum a profitable operation. It will require major fundraisers and grants amounting to around $100,000.
“I absolutely want this museum to move forward for as many years as it possibly can,” said Banks. “We need to preserve that legacy money to do so. That’s my only job. I don’t know about artifacts and exhibits but I know how to run a business and I want this business to last.”
The new board now consists of vice-presidents, Jessica Aebig and Andre Pahl, secretary Mary Ellen Campbell, treasurer Peter Kawerau, and trustees Brian Taylor (for a two-year term) and Vivian Laniel (for one year).
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