Rossland museum hoping for funding for year-round employees

The Rossland Historical Museum and Archives is asking for $28,000 from the city to deal with operational matters.

The Rossland Historical Museum and Archives is asking for $28,000, and potentially more, from the city to deal with operational matters. The problem comes as a result of the museums plan to become open year-round.

Right now, the museum grinds down through the slower winter season and is only open full time in the summer.

“It’s become apparent in the last few months that we really do need to have an employee year round at the museum,” Libby Martin, the museum’s president, said. “The directors that currently are attempting to do tasks that an employee would do under these circumstances.”

Martin said the perception is that when the museum is closed there is nothing to do, when in fact that is not the case. She said that January to March is grant application time as well as when they start advertising for spring and summer opening hours. There are also the tasks of emailing, paying bills and other things.

During the season, she said there isn’t the same amount of time for staff to look after objects, organize archival material and take research submissions.

“A lot of that has to be done out of season,” she said.

Martin said they also learned recently that the museum’s longtime manager, Joyce Austin, will be retiring in 2014. Austin has been with the organization for over 30 years.

“Much of what she does as manager has never been recorded, it’s all up here,” Martin said, pointing to her head. “We’ve been working on that, I’ve been trying to get procedures written down and so forth, but we also need to get a succession plan in place. That’s something else we’re working on.”

Martin said that there will have to be an overlapping period where the extra employee costs will come into play.

Already, the museum has changed its regular hours from seven days a week, to five days, other than July and August, which it hopes will give some time to the manager to work the two off days and get some of the other work completed.

The museum is planning to hire another full-time employee to run the desk and visitor’s centre, which should allow the manager to manage and curate.

Martin said, at the moment, the manager spends a lot of her time taking people’s money at the front desk, which, she noted, is not the most pertinent of her duties.

“Unfortunately, all this is going to cost some extra money,” she said. “We really want to carry out these plans, and we will need more funding than in previous years. We have been looking at granting opportunities, but I’m sure you’re all aware that it’s really hard to get funding for operational procedures. It’s almost an impossibility. You have to create a project, that then requires someone to do the project, you then have to make sure that project is sustainable once that person’s job is done. So you have to be very cautious about that.”

They hope that once the Gateway Project comes to fruition, the funds would be a carry over.

Martin wants to see the museum become more financially sustainable, but conceded that it is hard right now without a drawing card.

Profili said the museum traffic will most likely increase once the hours are set, since they have had some partial hours lately.

He said it would be wise for the museum to be open during the ski season.

Martin said they need the consistency of being open three or so days in the winter months, so that people will know it is open.

The museum is also in talks with Teck to make the ore dumps more visible by taking down some of the trees that are growing around the museum site.

Profili said he submitted a budget of $28,000, but would like to double that.

“When you start talking about full-time employees, if you look at hiring someone with credentials like we’re looking at, by the time you put a loaded factor in there, you’re looking at close to $50,000 for that            employee.”

They hope to hire a manager and curator full-time, as well as a student tour guide, and a full time person to run the visitor centre, which does generate some funds.

That extra person could also lead tours, as they hope to bring the number of tours up.

“We are trying to reach out to the schools again, to try to get them to come back. Before, when they came, it was because the tunnel was open and it was a fun outing,” she said. “We’re working on an education plan, we’ve been talking with students, we’ve applied for a gaming commission grant to try and set up some kind of educational program, where the students would come to the museum as part of their curriculum.”

For more on the museum go here.

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