The Rensselaer County Historical Society has announced that they may be forced to close due to economic hardship. I will reprint here the message they sent:
We Need Your Help!
Keep the lights on and history alive!
To our members and friends,
As you may have read in [yesterday's] Times Union, RCHS is currently experiencing severe financial difficulty. The organization been running annual deficits for several years, and despite special efforts, the situation has now become critical. In a matter of weeks RCHS will no longer have funds available to meet its basic operating needs. What may have seemed – even ten years ago – a reasonable endowment with sustainable cash reserves has now dwindled to the point where we are no longer able to pay our bills. Without an immediate and substantial infusion of funds (upwards of $150,000), it appears that we will be required to close our doors while we work to implement a prudent fiscal strategy.
If we must close,
· our loyal and hardworking staff will be furloughed. Together these professionals have over 74 years of service to our community.
· exciting new educational initiatives, popular public programs, and long-planned exhibits would cease or be cancelled. The loss to our community – both economically and psychologically – would be incalculable. RCHS collections hold over 60,000 items of decorative arts, furniture, paintings, and sculpture. None of these items would remain available to the public. More importantly, an even greater number of documents relating to our past would be completely inaccessible. The utility bills alone for maintaining these collections are almost $6,000 a month.
· RCHS efforts as a major catalyst in highly visible efforts to use the historic fabric of our county to stimulate economic development will be curtailed. We hope to be able to continue serving – in fact inspiring – our community through these efforts.
We are beginning a public campaign to “keep the lights on and history alive!” As in the past, we are grateful for your active interest and suggestions regarding strategies to ensure RCHS’s survival. We also urgently need your personal assistance in providing immediate financial support during this financial crisis.
Our plan is to take the next three to four months to develop – in partnership with our supporters – a new business plan for RCHS, designed to ensure its long-term sustainability. We are fortunate to have Rachel Tooker, a very experienced and energizing Transitional Executive leading this effort. The dedicated members of the RCHS board are prepared to join Rachel to discuss our finances and future plans in detail. Please give us a call if you have questions or suggestions for us.
In the meantime, here are some things you can do to help RCHS:
Help us to spread the word about RCHS and its positive impact on the community.
Distribute RCHS membership and program brochures to your clubs and community organizations.
Hold a brunch or get-together and make a group donation to RCHS.
Give an RCHS membership as a birthday present or gift to a new neighbor.
Volunteer to help with an RCHS program or project.
Send us your ideas for making RCHS sustainable and an even more valuable part of the community.