City Hall

At a Tuesday meeting, the Fullerton City Council approved Fullerton Museum's request for a grant to manage and operate the museum. (Danica Huynh / Daily Titan) 

On Tuesday, Fullerton City Council unanimously voted to approve the Fullerton Museum Center Association's request for a city financial support of $151,771. 

The museum is requesting financial support from the city in order to reopen for a minimum of three days a week, Thursday through Saturday, during the days that will generate the highest revenue. 

The association requested a one-time reimbursement of its expenses collected during the pandemic. Expenses of $51,770 on non-refundable exhibit deposits in guitar shipping fees were acquired when the museum closed last year.

Councilman Fred Jung said the additional $100,000 will come from the general fund and is expected to last the museum half a year. 

The museum was defunded after its closure in March 2020 in response to the pandemic. On June 1, the council approved a city budget for 2021-22, which did not include any funding for the city's museum. 

Christa Johnson, the interim deputy city manager of Fullerton, introduced the museum's request for city support.

Johnson said that due to the quarantine and the city's budget deficit, the parks and rec department canceled its programs, closed its facilities and reduced staffing. Currently, the museum does not have any full-time or part-time employees that are part of the budget. 

According to Johnson, the city has been responsible for all staffing, management operations and maintenance of the museum, which cost the city approximately $600,000 a year. 

The museum has fundraised approximately $160,000 each year to fund exhibits and educational costs, Johnson said. The fundraising efforts also include museum memberships, gift shop revenue and the beer garden during Thursday markets. 

"These fundraising efforts are supported by city staff. For example, the beer garden and the gift shop were managed and staffed by city employees," Johnson said. 

The total cost to operate the museum is approximately $760,000 a year, Johnson said. The city covers $600,000, and $160,000 comes from the association and donations. 

During public comment, Janet Buzan, president of the association, said the board and other community members wrote a letter to the council in order to be added to the agenda and request funding. 

"We really need the support of each of you as council members so that we can attempt to secure some funding," Buzan said. "I hope that we can work together, for just not short-term solutions but long-term." 

Kathy Campanelli, a Fullerton resident since 1977, said that although money is a significant issue in regards to the museum, the city needs the association for the culture and the education it provides to the community.  

"This community, this museum has provided hours, hours, hours, years of education to our children at the kindergarten level, at the grade school level, and even at the high school level," Campanelli said. 

Campanelli added that the museum is the heart of Fullerton and asked the council to consider a grant or an option that will keep the monument open for another 25 years. 

Mayor Pro Tem Nick Dunlap said that although there is unanimous support from the council to fund the museum center, they need to figure out how to ensure the association continues to thrive for years to come. 

Councilman Ahmad Zahra asked to agendize a public arts ordinance, something that other cities have adopted. 

"It's a percentage charged to developers and developments,” Zahra said. “This creates an actual source of revenue for the city that would be dedicated towards providing an annual grant for the museum, even if they are independent.” 

Councilman Jesus Silva seconded the idea proposed by Zahra.

"Brea, Huntington Beach and a lot of cities throughout California have this. Brea is a very great example. Their city has so much art," Zahra said. "And I think this is something that could help us over time."

 

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