Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Advocates for Pennsylvania's museums say funding the commonwealth provides their facilities is a speck in the state budget, but it plays a major role in keeping their doors open. Governor Ed Rendell has proposed zeroing out the state's $3.5 million museum assistance grant program in his executive budget. Last year the program help fund 292 museums. Ford Bell, the president of the American Association of Museums, says state aid is critical for smaller, rural operations. “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 five percent of museum budgets. It's a very small percentage. So even if you are charging admission it doesn't begin to cover your costs.” Bell and other museum advocates made their case to lawmakers at the state Capitol this week. Rendell says the difficult fiscal climate means state expenses have to be trimmed.