On August 7th, 2017 the City Council authorized $125,000 in funding for the Museum of Ventura County. The county also approved another $125,000 in funding as well. There were a number of contingencies that were attached to the funding, requiring hiring of key personnel to develop museum goals, fundraising and plans for better use of the museum’s collections and archives over the next six months. The Breeze wanted to follow up on the progress. “City staff will be holding monthly meetings with the museum employees to get a report on milestones”, according to city manager Mark Watkins, who adds “the public purpose of the appropriation is to protect city resources, support the arts and promote economic and cultural tourism.” Watkins expressed confidence that all the goals would be met within the six months.
When the Breeze queried interim museum director Elena Brokaw, she also expressed her confidence that the goals would be met. “I am extremely confident that we will be able to meet the requirements. They are ambitious and will demand a great and concerted effort, but the community has already shown its support for the museum’s reinvention through the formation of an Endowment Committee, new board members, funding and increased attendance.
A team has begun to meet to work on all elements of the Museum reinvention plan: collections, programs, governance, endowment, outreach, partnerships and Museum identity and vision. Of the 23 specific tasks to be completed in the first 6 months, we have already completed five, and have made significant progress on five more,” Brokaw reports.
Council member Christy Weir is also confident that the museum will meet its goals. “They have an ambitious action plan, but with city and county funding and new leadership, this year we will see substantial changes. They have already made progress in board development and fundraising. We will soon see physical improvements to the interior and exterior, and continued emphasis on engaging exhibits and special events.”
The plan first calls for hiring an endowment consultant by August 30. That person would be responsible for major fundraising. Brokaw states “We have selected a consultant. The board will approve the contract on August 28”. So far so good.
When asked if a much needed curator has been selected she replied,
“There are a number of new positions identified (Ag Museum Manager for the Santa Paula Museum, Collections Manager, Events Coordinator, etc.) but a curator is not one of them. The recruitments are in development.”
For Ventura citizens wondering when the public can expect to see results at the museum itself, “Six months” was Brokaw’s quick response.
When asked what happens if some but not all the goals are met by this term’s end, City Manager Watkins says, ” We will have to assess that if the situation arises.”.”