Sunday, June 5, 2011
Arizona Historical Society has $2,400 per member subsidy
The AHS has seven types of memberships with dues ranging from $25 to $1.000. They currently have 8 student members, 976 individual members, 438 household members, 218 sustaining members, 49 patron members, 18 sponsor members, and 11 directors circle members. Therefore, they have just 1718 paid memberships representing something over a couple of thousand individuals. Dues paid for these memberships are $131,500, just 2.5 % of the AHS budget.
Although the AHS has little community support, it does have political connections and a lobbyist. Therefore, it has a $5 million dollar budget. Eighty percent of it comes from the state general fund (taxpayer’s pockets). Most of the rest of the AHS budget comes from renting out state owned building for events such as weddings.
The direct FY 2012 taxpayer subsidy of $4,151,100 represents a subsidy of $2,416 per membership. Even though the AHS lacks community support and attracts few visitors to its museums, it was assigned yet another museum in the midst of the financial crisis. The top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum was transferred to the AHS. The AHS has closed the mineral museum and terminated its K-12 education programs. They plan to use the building for a centennial museum (AKA Arizona Experience) even though they have thus far failed to raise the funds to build the new displays.
The AHS demonstrated similar failures at Marley Center Museum in Tempe and Rio Nuevo in Tucson. Success and community support is not necessary to maintain a government agency’s budget.