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Museum seeks funding, considers possible closing

By Jebb Johnston

jjohnston@dailycorinthian.com

Without some additional funding support for the upcoming fiscal year, the Crossroads Museum is planning to close its doors for at least one month and potentially several months beginning in December.

Director Brandy Steen presented budget requests to the Corinth Board of Aldermen on Tuesday and Alcorn County Board of Supervisors on Monday. The museum is requesting a total of $32,395 from the local governments to continue operations. It is currently operating with a deficit of almost $10,000.

After the completion of the transfer of the museum property from the county to the City of Corinth, the Board of Supervisors dropped the museum from its list of funded agencies early in the current fiscal year. The county had budgeted $11,800 for the museum, which also lost rental income of $12,000 with the departure of the Coke exhibit.

After the property transfer and funding issues emerged, the city gave an additional $6,000, bringing the museum's total city funding for the fiscal year to $16,000.

Board of Supervisors Attorney Bill Davis said there was no intent to leave the museum without funding. He said the exchange of properties, which included the arena, coliseum, business incubator and museum, was done with the understanding that the city and county "would therefore be responsible for its respective properties."

"We thought the city was going to fund it," said Supervisor Tim Mitchell.

Davis believes the county now likely does not have legal authority to fund the museum, and he said it would put the board in a difficult position now that the money has been allocated elsewhere.

The museum recently requested a $15,000 grant for operations from the Corinth Area CVB; it was rejected based on the policy of funding only advertising and promotion of events. The museum is suggesting that the city and county boards consider mandating that the Corinth Area CVB budget, which is supported by the tourism tax, include funding for the museum operations.

Steen said the museum hopes to drive revenue increases by aggressively promoting memberships and with increased admission fees as the result of a possible new Civil War exhibit the museum is negotiating to receive. It is expected to be of great interest to the Civil War tourist.

Museum admissions have declined in recent years, which Steen partly attributes to a decrease in the number of tour buses stopping at the museum.

The winter closure would be at the time of least visitation and would allow the museum to save on payroll and energy costs, she said.