County Moves on Plan to Save Loudoun Museum

The county’s finance committee on Tuesday recommended a plan to spend up to $90,000 a year for three years to help get the Loudoun Museum back on its feet.

“It’s difficult for an entity like this to turn their ship around in a single year,” said County Administrator Tim Hemstreet. “They do need a lot of work, and what this is offering is that professional support to help them through that process.”

The museum previously came to the county board asking for help and warning that without immediate action, the museum would likely begin dissolution. The previous Board of Supervisors in December narrowly voted to help bail out the museum, which is in financial dire straits, and would take oversight control of the museum.

[Read about that contentious vote here.]

But county senior staff members have determined that doing so would threaten the independence of the museum’s Board of Trustees and, in the case of county government taking control, the museum’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.

Loudoun Musuem Curator Alana Blumenthal hears the news that the county will provide funding for professional fundraising, but still retain supervisory control over that contract. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)
Loudoun Museum Curator Alana Blumenthal hears the news that the county will provide funding for professional fundraising, but still retain supervisory control over that contract. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)

The new plan directs staff to find an outside vendor to provide development services to the museum. The county would sign and control the contract and a memorandum of understanding with the museum, which supervisors have suggested should also include accountability such as fundraising benchmarks and a requirement that museum Board of Trustees members raise or donate money.

The money for the outside vendor is already in the fiscal year 2017 county budget, to the tune of $156,000, including $91,000 for operating expenditures and $65,000 for hiring a development manager. That money will now be used for hiring the third party vendor, plus a transfer of funds to the museum of $66,000.

Finance committee members said they would like to look at using transient occupancy tax funds, which are earmarked for promoting tourism and travel, instead of general operating funds.

And while supervisors continue to be wary about giving more money to the perennially struggling museum, county Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) said he is willing to give it one more chance.

3 thoughts on “County Moves on Plan to Save Loudoun Museum

  • 2016-05-11 at 11:38 pm

    This just in – Loudoun BOS down with multi-million dollar shooting range for police, million-dollar road donation to FAIRFAX County, but feeling sort of Meh about a museum to get our shared history. It is time to act like a fully fledged county.

  • 2016-05-12 at 5:21 pm

    Unless the county wrests control of the museum from Liz Whiting and her current board this is just money down the drain. No amount of money is going to “make” people go to the museum because their collection for the public is static and most of their artifacts are sitting in a county-owned house on Edwards Ferry Road, that will soon be removed to make way for the new courts building. Museums like this across the nation are hurting and are becoming wholly dependent on tax subsidies. There just are not that many wealthy people in this county nor businesses that care about the Loudoun Museum. I feel this is a big waste of tax dollars.

  • 2016-05-13 at 5:17 pm

    Mr. Higgins sits on the board for this museum and by him giving the museum money is a conflict of interest. He also gave the Waterford Foundation $150,000 so they could “repair their finances”. Mr. Higgins and Dick Black tried to appropriate $200,000 for the Waterford Foundation from the General Assembly. It is unclear where the accountability is for these groups and for the motives of the supervisors to so freely use our checkbook.

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