Museum In Distress Ceo Warns Science Museum May Need Tax To Run New Home
Written by Miami Today on August 6, 2009
By Zachary S. Fagenson
Operating a new Museum of Science at Bicentennial Park may require a new tax of some sort, the museum’s president and CEO says.
"They’ve had special taxes allocated toward other sources," Gillian Thomas said Tuesday. "They could do that for cultural causes as well."
Her mention of a tax followed warnings from Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff that the museum may lack money to operate its planned home in what is to be Museum Park. Tourism and convention development taxes that could go to help run the museum are now dedicated to a Marlins stadium and garage, he said.
At a July 23 commission meeting, Mr. Sarnoff said he was wary of "setting a dangerous precedent" by putting up buildings for groups that may be unable to run them.
The museums "need to demonstrate they have money to operate the building [and] in declining revenues that may not be demonstrated," he said.
Meanwhile, several of the museum’s trustees said there’s been no talk of a new tax but that need for public support for arts and culture has been obvious.
"It is inconsistent for the county to provide major, significant funds for Miami Science Museum and Miami Art Museum… in the new Museum Park," said board member Walter Revell, CEO of Revell Investments, and "at the same time not help sustain the ongoing operations [that] are vital to the social and economic wellbeing of the community."
More immediately, Ms. Thomas warned in an e-mail to supporters Friday that county budget cuts could force the current museum to close "after over 60 years."
But board member Taffy Gould said the chance of closing is slim. "If [the county] slashes the budget," she said, "we’ll have to make certain changes."