Monday, April 9, 2012

Texas Museum Conferance Awash In Tepid Waters

Each year the Texas Association of Museums conference (TAM) has an official theme, this year it was Navigating the Raising Waters of Change. And then there is the theme that develops as the attendees converse.  Last year it was "Yes, Our budgets and staff have been cut back, but we are optimistic about finding new ways to deal with it".  (TAM post 2011)

As the 2012 Texas Association of Museum conference in San Antonio progressed, it became clear that those strong hearted souls from 2011 were feeling the toll of yet more cut backs, lay offs and reduced funding.

For some reason beyond my comprehension. Texas supports the elimination of all funding for the arts. Texas supports deep cuts in funding of public education and public programs. Texas also supports reducing the taxable write off of donations.

Eliminating funding for the arts will not only get rid of that non-profit museum down the street that only shows conceptual installations involving string and hot glue, it will also close the doors of the hundreds  historic museums in small towns across Texas.

With the cut backs in art funding, most museums, big and small, have turned to developing their educational departments as a way to make ends meet. Now, with education funding under the gun, museums, libraries, community centers and historic sites are wondering where to turn next...

Perhaps the community! Perhaps they can fill that financial gap with donations?!  Unfortunately the taxable write off for donations made to non-profits has been reduced yet again. This reduction has persuaded the community to hold off on giving away their hard earned money.

Last Option: Raise the ticket price for admission.

Result: The community cries foul! This museum is an elitist institution that thinks its to good for people like me!!! So the doors shut.

Fortunately, most art museums are high security structures that can easily be converted into prisons. With all the cuts in education and public programing, we'll be needing a lot of those real soon.