The City Council of Ventura on Monday, July 10, voted unanimously to support the Museum of Ventura County with a $125,000 financial commitment for 2017. This will allow the museum to keep its doors open to the public, after it “has been operating at a deficit for years,” according to Interim Executive Director Elena Brokaw, “It’s essentially a lifeline,” noted City Councilman Matt LaVere in his introductory statement, “a chance not to close.”
The museum, which reopened in January after a four-month closure, continues to face financial crisis as funding from individual and business contributions — upon which the museum is almost entirely dependent — has fallen short of what the institution needs to survive. “The private sector can’t give enough . . . to meet the bare minimum,” Brokaw said. The written proposal submitted to the Council states bluntly that “The museum is poised to run out of operating funds by August 2017.” Without an influx of cash, the museum could close at the end of July.
The museum initially sought $250,000 for the period ending June 30, 2018. The City Council ultimately approved $125,000 to be paid out over the next six months. While all members voted “yes” to provide the funding, LaVere cautioned that “It is not money without strings.” City funding is contingent upon similar support from Ventura County. The museum has also made funding requests of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors and the city of Santa Paula. While Brokaw says that she has “been in conversation” with both county and Santa Paula city officials, no progress has been made at this time.
The museum is ultimately seeking $2.25 million in public funding over five years from the county, $950,000 from Ventura and $166,000 from Santa Paula. Further funding approvals from the Ventura City Council are contingent upon the museum meeting certain benchmarks and the availability of city funds.
This is a developing story.