County to offer ‘cultural grants’
Historical groups and museums in Leavenworth County will share 4.2 percent more funding from the county commission in 2008 than in 2007, but the aid will be funneled out as competitive grants.
Commissioners decided Monday to make available $100,000 in "cultural grants" for museums and other historical groups. The grant program would be opened to competitive requests from nonprofit organizations in the county and will support program, acquisition and preservation-oriented projects that focus on culture or are of a historic nature and could spur tourism in Leavenworth.
"(The cultural grants) are taking the monkey off our, the commission's back," Commissioner Dean Oroke said. "We're no longer just handing over money to various entities but are making them a participant."
The cultural grant process is a distinct change from years past when individual budget requests were made by various museums and agencies and awarded in a piecemeal fashion.
In the 2007 county budget, $96,000 was allocated to county museums for 2007: $46,000 made available to the Leavenworth Historical Society housed in the Carroll Mansion in Leavenworth; $25,000 to the First City Museum in Leavenworth; $10,000 to the Richard Allen Cultural Center in Leavenworth; and $5,000 apiece to historical museums in Lansing, Tonganoxie and Basehor.
Applicants will begin submitting grant requests in September. Commissioners also decided that grant recipients must verify their ability to match individual grant awards.
Grants will be provided only to groups that spell out exactly what programs they will fund. Salaries for museum directors will not be included as eligible costs under the cultural grants as in years past, but salaries for researchers and part-time staff will be.
"What we're trying to do is stay out of the business of hiring people and get in the business of helping out different museums and cultural centers that are going to increase our attractiveness," Commission Chairman J.C. Tellefson said. "We're trying to put our money to better use."
To further ensure that grant money is being spent appropriately, costs will be reimbursed only after they are incurred.
"With reimbursement, we're going to get the true cost of these programs," Oroke said.
While the motion to adopt the cultural grant process passed unanimously, Commissioner Clyde Graeber expressed some concern that certain entities involved might not understand what the process fully entails.
"I'm not faulting this," he said. "I'm just saying I'm not sure if everyone fully understands how this is going to affect them."
The opinions voiced by museum employees present at Monday's meeting were for the most part supportive of the new system.
"We think it's a good program," said Del Sanders, president of the board of the Leavenworth Historical Museum Association Inc., which operates the C.W. Parker Museum, the National Fred Harvey Museum and First City Museum in Leavenworth. "It's a good way to go about it," he said. "There's fairness and good consideration for all of the programs in the county."
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