PA museums facing extinction over fund cuts

    Advocates for Pennsylvania’s museums say funding that the commonwealth provides to their facilities is a speck in the state budget, but plays a major role in keeping their doors open.

    Advocates for Pennsylvania’s museums say funding that the commonwealth provides to their facilities is a speck in the state budget, but plays a major role in keeping their doors open.

    Listen:
    [audio: 090421sdmuseum.mp3]

    Governor Rendell has proposed zeroing out the state’s museum assistance grant in his executive budget.

    Pennsylvania distributed $3.5 million in funding to 292 museums last fiscal year. That’s a drop from the $4.1 million handed out in the 2007-2008 budget and the $6.1 million dispersed the year before that.

    Ford Bell, the president of the American Association of Museums, says state aid is critical for smaller, rural operations.

    Bell: It’s very hard for them to raise money, to find wealthy donors. They’re never going to have an endowment. Admission, across the board in this country, is only about 5 percent of museum budgets. It’s a very small percentage. So even if you are charging admission, a dollar or two, it doesn’t begin to cover your costs.

    Bell and other museum advocates recently stated their case to lawmakers at the state Capitol. Rendell says the difficult fiscal climate means state expenses have to be trimmed.

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