A message from Carolyn Hyslop, Executive Director, and John Ronson, Chair, Board of Directors
In these trying times, and as we work to adapt to an ever-evolving situation, we believe it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are reaching out to let you know how The Canadian Canoe Museum has been impacted by COVID-19.
We know that we are far from alone in these uncharted waters. Like you, your family, your community, businesses large and small, and other not-for-profit charitable organizations, we are working to navigate what was just a couple of weeks ago, unimaginable.
The museum is doing what it can to stop the spread of COVID-19 and its galleries have been closed to the public and all of its initiatives and programming postponed since March 14. While none of us are in a position to predict the course of this pandemic, we are taking next steps based on the information we have before us. At this time, we will be extending the closure until approximately June 30. Between now and then, we will be following daily developments, along with the direction of public health officials. We look forward to reopening as soon as it is safe to do so.
This decision was necessary within the context of the current public health crisis, but it is not without incredible impact. Similar to some of the challenges being faced by cultural organizations across the country and beyond, the closure of our museum means no admission fees, events or fundraising, school group visits, space rentals, store sales, or workshops. This equates to an 85 per cent reduction in revenue and in turn, the requirement to issue temporary layoff notices to the majority of our staff members.
While this step will ensure the financial sustainability of the organization on the other side of the closure, it was one of the most difficult we have ever had to take. To say that our staff members are completely committed and dedicated to our organization is an absolute understatement. These caring, creative individuals go above and beyond as they take every opportunity to share the stories the collection carries, and they are a critical component of our organization.
Alongside our staff, stand our 180 volunteers. While they contribute in every way to every area of our operation, they are also at the core of our closely-knit community. Already, we are missing the vibrancy of our volunteers. We commit to staying connected throughout the closure and look forward to coming back together at the first opportunity.
While we are closed, a small team will be focused on keeping in touch with our stakeholders and supporters, and they will ensure that our one-of-a-kind collection is cared for. This includes continued planning for our new museum at the water’s edge. We will keep the lines of communication open as we move through the current crisis and look forward to continuing every facet of our work when the time is right.
During this unprecedented time, as the physical distance among us becomes greater, so too, does the importance of shared experience. When this is behind us, our work of inspiring connection, curiosity and new understanding will continue in earnest, as will our contributions to the fabric of our community. In the meantime, we thank you for your understanding, and ask that as individuals, families and communities, we continue to pull together.