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MAC gets good news and a challenge in state budget



The Governor's recently released proposed 2015-2017 budget has good news for Spokane's Museum of Arts & Culture (MAC), a modest increase in total state funding for the next biennium. It also comes with a challenge: for the Museum to..."develop a plan for creating a performance-based partnership between the State of Washington and the not-for-profit Museum of Arts & culture for implementation in the 2017-2019 fiscal biennium."

MAC Executive Director, Forrest Rodgers said that the MAC Board of Trustees had already begun planning for the partnership agreement. "The MAC, historically, has been underfunded and subject to unpredictable swings in State funding. Since late 2012 we’ve talked about reducing our dependence on State funding, and earlier this year the Board began discussing options for achieving that goal. One of the options Board members suggested is exploring a way to change the nature of our relationship with the State. Now, the Governor's proposed budget and challenge give us the opportunity to develop a path towards independence, while still holding the State accountable for maintaining the facilities and the collection. Our ultimate goal, of course, is to transform the MAC from being State-owned to being community-owned."

MAC Board President Peter Moye said, "Not many people realize that the MAC is a State agency, with State employees and all the accountability requirements of a government agency. A non-profit partnership agreement will increase the Board's fundraising responsibility and give the Director more operational flexibility. Also, it allows the MAC to focus on this community and the stakeholders who have been such loyal and generous supporters."

The modest increase in overall State authorization in the MAC's Operating Budget includes increases in fees for services (i.e. HR, IT, legal and accounting) from other State agencies, and mandated compensation adjustments. But, these are offset by a reduction in funding equal to one full-time position that now must be funded by earned income or reserves.

The plan to create a performance-based partnership will include strategies to increase non-State revenues for the operation of the Museum and estimate the minimum amount of State funding necessary to preserve, maintain and protect State-owned facilities and assets. According to Moye, "Initial response to the partnership concept, both locally and in Olympia has been favorable, and we’ve already been giving shape to the planning process."

The proposed 2015-2017 budget also includes $200,000 in Pre-Design Funding to study possible renovations to the Exhibit Hall and Cheney Cowles Center that increase non-State revenues. Both plans need to be submitted to the Office of Financial Management and the fiscal committees of the Legislature by October 1, 2016.

"The Governor's challenge is a wonderful opportunity for us. I really believe here is a pent-up demand in this community for the MAC to become something truly great - a cultural center that celebrates our history and art, so we welcome it and look forward to the work it will require." Rodgers said.

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