When we began this blog for the museum, there was some concern about how we would keep it going. Some of the staff and volunteers asked “What should I write about?” and voiced a concern that they didn’t really have anything to say. “Relax,” I said, using my manager voice. “Just write about what you do at the museum.” When you look at the past 75 or so posts, I think that’s worked pretty well. No problem if you work with artifacts, or kids, or go on exotic jaunts to the UK to paddle for the Queen. But what about those “who only stand and wait,” as the poet said, or in this case, merely manage? Well, I’m going to take my own advice and write about what I do at the museum, so here’s a blog about the budget!

Last year, we put together this chart to show the museum’s financial model at a glance:

You’ll notice a couple of things right away. One is that only 18% of our operating income comes from government sources. If you subtract special project grants, the total is only 15%, from the City of Peterborough and the Province of Ontario. Contrary to what many people assume, we receive no ongoing Federal Government operating support. The good news about that is that we are completely protected from cuts in Federal Government support(!). What it also means, though, is that this institution, which holds a collection of national significance and has engaged hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the country and around the world, does this great amount of good with the help of a fairly small group of supporters. Something else that this chart shows is that 61% of the resources we expend goes towards producing our principle product, which is memorable heritage-based experiences, and that we run a pretty lean and efficient operation.

This is all very much on our minds as we develop the 2013 budget and look ahead to the future. You can see from this chart how important our earned revenue is, and yet we have some real limitations to contend with at the moment. For example, we have a great retail store (which just happens to be full of wonderful canoe-themed christmas gifts, in case you’re in a holiday shopping mood), but you only see it when you’ve already come inside the museum. Just image how long most retailers would last if there stores were inside a big blank box that didn’t let you know there was a store inside! We do some room rental business, but we could do a lot more if we had more and better space in which to do it. Adding these capabilities to our current site and buildings would require a major investment, and yet at the end of the project, we’d still be in a less-than-ideal location. The long-term solution, we think, is to redevelop the museum in a new location.

I hope that you all saw the announcement a short time ago about the launch of our feasibility study? As the self-improvement slogan says, this is “the first day of the rest of our life,” and the first step towards building a museum that is both economically sustainable and on the water in downtown Peterborough. The study will be completed by mid-summer 2013, and I look forward to sharing it with you. In the mean time, I’d better get back to the budget, so that’s all from the Manager’s desk.