February 5, 2013

Why do we fund museums?

Children's Museum Photo courtesy Ebonie Klassen Photography, 2011

"Why do we fund museums?" was apparently the question asked by several city councillors when they approved a 2013 budget increasing discretionary ward allowances by $40,000 and cutting over $600,000 from local non-profits, including the Manitoba Children's Museum.

I'm not going to argue against executive assistants getting a "living wage" which they apparently currently aren't. The $40,000 isn't necessarily going to that, but who can argue against a living wage?

And I can't argue against the bafflement of why the city funds museums, but Maureen Barchyn makes a pretty good argument. She's program director for the Family Centre, one of the organizations that accesses the MCM's Free2Play program, which annually allows around 5,000 kids to visit the museum for free. In an organization that's already stretched thin (last year they eliminated one position and bumped another two down to part time), Free2Play is in danger.

Children's Museum Photo courtesy Ebonie Klassen Photography, 2011
"We operate a resource centre in the Mayfair development," Barcyn said. "They've enjoyed free admission and summer camp passes.

"It's really important for those family who live below the poverty line to go to the museum. Children in that development have some of the lowest school readiness scores... After they've been to the museum, we've gotten reports back of better relationships with families, improved parent-child attachment. The kids are exposed to a rich play environment, which they wouldn't have access to without the passes."

Staff and guardians (grandparents as often as parents) have told enthusiastically told Barchyn of the difference the trips make to the young visitors' self esteems and desire to learn.

That's why you fund museums.

Children's Museum Photo courtesy Ebonie Klassen Photography, 2011


  1. I always think that when it comes to budget cuts, children's programs should be the last to go. When you're young, especially as young as the kids in these photos, you should be exposed to as many positive experiences as adults can provide you with.

  2. Perhaps the powers that be think that we can absorb all of our culture from television and the internet now. Why go out and have real, tactile experiences? . . .that was sarcasm for those who didn't get the tone of my comments. Of course if we were talking in person, I wouldn't feel the need to make that comment. Seeeee?