A year after six Winnipeg museums united against a plan to have their municipal funding handled by a third party, the city looks set to provide direct grants instead.
In 2019, a city staff report made a hotly contested recommendation to transfer museum funding in 2020 from the City of Winnipeg Museums Board to the Winnipeg Arts Council, which would then distribute an annual city grant of $764,934 to the St. Boniface Museum, Transcona Museum, Historical Museum of St. James-Assiniboia, Seven Oaks House Museum, Ross House Museum and Grant’s Old Mill.
The matter was delayed after pushback from museum officials who argued it would let the city shirk a long-held funding responsibility. The arts council also opposed the plan.
On Thursday, council is finally expected to vote on directly providing grants to the museums instead and boosted by a one-time payment worth about $7,500 per museum from administrative savings.
Council committees previously voted in favour of the latest proposal.
"The city museums really asserted that they were a creature of the city… It is appropriate for the city to understand they’re the cultural underpinnings (of) the unicity that we have now," said Coun. Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry), the chairperson of council’s protection, community services and parks committee.
The museums board will also still be disbanded, if council approves the plan as is.
It’s critical that elected officials maintain their responsibility for the funding, said Vania Gagnon, director of the St. Boniface Museum.
The museum is even noted as a core service within the city's charter, which Gagnon said must be honoured.
"It was important for us to be able to keep that direct relationship with elected officials... We just didn’t want them to step away from their responsibilities," she said.
There is still plenty of work required to sort out each institution’s relationship with the city since each museum will have to develop legal agreements that clearly spell out the city's role when it comes to their buildings, which the city owns and/or leases, Gagnon said.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.