Leaders of two Manitoba historical and heritage organizations are calling on the province to increase funding to protect organizations like theirs, saying inflation and declining volunteer numbers are putting their sector at risk.
Gordon Goldsborough, president of the Manitoba Historical Society, and Thomas McLeod, executive director of the Manitoba Museums Association, say the government has failed to increase funding for the eight heritage organizations that have served the province for about 20 years .
“The effect of this is, with the consequences of inflation… [that funding] has declined,” Goldsborough said.
“We receive less than before, at the same time that we are asked to do as much or more than before.”
The historian, who is a volunteer himself, says many heritage agencies don’t have enough annual grants to hire paid staff, so they must rely heavily on free labor and fundraising to continue to operate.
“It’s a constant challenge raising funds. You’re not trying to work hard to produce great legacy content. You’re just worrying about where your next nickel will come from, and that’s a problem.”
McLeod said the thought of losing small museums, archives and heritage associations “keeps you up at night.”
“You know how tight their margins are and how things like rising costs and inflation this year aren’t going to match the funds they normally get to operate,” he told Reuters. host Keisha Paul in an interview Sunday with CBC Manitoba. Weekend morning show.
Without a financial boost, McLeod said he fears some of these agencies will fail. This is because their volunteer base is aging and young people do not always have the capacity to step in to fill the void.
“What’s at stake in Manitoba when we lose our heritage is that we rely so much on collective memory,” McLeod said.
“But if we lose the artifacts and the records that go with it…we lose the hard evidence, and what happens is you’re in [a] crisis of having to get that back.”
Goldsborough adds that misinformation and conspiracy theories can take root when trusted organizations aren’t there to answer questions with authority and accuracy.
Both men are looking to Manitoba’s western neighbor to find ways to help archives, museums and heritage organizations thrive.
Proceeds from Saskatchewan Lotteries – the provincial lottery ticket marketing organization – support cultural and heritage initiatives in that province such as museums, archaeology, archives, local heritage parks and associations.
McLeod says these Saskatchewan organizations receive eight to ten times more money than their Manitoba counterparts.
Goldsborough adds that Saskatchewan organizations get stable funding for three years at a time, while Manitoba groups must apply annually.
He says it makes him feel like Oliver Twist in Charles Dickens’ novel, where the eponymous character begs for more porridge and is turned away.
“The answer is no, you don’t get more. You get the same or you get less,” Goldsborough said.
As the spokesperson for the provincial government, it supports 175 organizations on an annual basis through a variety of grants, with annual funding of $5.7 million for operating expenses and project support.
The spokesperson also said that over the past five years, the provincial government has created new endowment-based heritage programs in partnership with the Winnipeg Foundation, which provided $57 million in funding, including a trust $25 million to preserve the Hudson’s Bay Building in downtown Winnipeg.
Heritage organizations will also be able to access support through the Arts and Culture Sustainability Fund, which was recently renewed with $6 million, as well as a new Community Fund for Arts, Culture and sport, with a total of $100 million to spend over the next few years. three years, the spokesperson said.