Winnipeg museums face cuts under proposed city budget
Some museum officials are worried about the city’s proposed operating budget, which would cut the grants that Winnipeg museums receive by 10 per cent.
“I can’t believe it. I can’t believe this is happening to the museums,” said Diane Doth, executive director at the Children’s Museum.
Under the proposed budget, the Children’s Museum would lose $12,000 in operation funds. Plus, it would lose $9,200 promised to help pay for recent renovations.
“It leads us then to have to look at what we can cut in terms of programming and free access,” said Doth.
The cuts will impact each museum differently, since they don’t all receive the same amount of grant funding.
The Manitoba Museum would lose slightly more than $5,000.
The St. Boniface Museum, meanwhile, is considering cuts to staffing as it grapples with a proposed $45,000 drop in grant funding.
Philippe Mailhot, director of the St. Boniface Museum, worries cuts could make the entire museum irrelevant.
"The fear is that you go into a downward spiral of lost attendance, lost programming, etc. Where all of a sudden it becomes, do you simply want us to be here to open the doors at 9 a.m., and close them at 5 (p.m.)?" asked Mailhot.
Coun. Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood – Tuxedo) opposes the cuts to grants.
"The arts museums and not-for-profit groups that were cut were done arbitrarily,” she said.
She said the museums’ funding should be restored, perhaps with cash from the $40,000 being added to each councillors’ discretionary ward budgets.
Coun. Russ Wyatt, chair of the finance committee, said the city is trying to focus in on core areas of municipal responsibility. He said that while museums do good work, they don’t quite meet that test.
The city’s budget is still in the consultation process and changes could potentially be made to it.
The proposed budget will head to the mayor’s executive policy committee on Jan. 23, and then go before all of council for a vote on Jan. 29.