- The Science Alliance of Tennessee is dedicated to engaging Tennessees of all ages in hands-on learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and includes the following institutions:
Among the many harsh realities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the extreme financial distress in the museum sector has reached a critical point.
A recent national survey released by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) showed an alarming statistic: 33% of museums were not convinced they could survive 16 months without additional financial assistance. This means that many of our beloved cultural institutions may not survive the pandemic due to extended closures and fewer returning visitors for the foreseeable future.
The survey also found that 87% of museums had only 12 months or less of operating financial reserves left, with 56% having less than six months to cover their operations. 44% had laid off or laid off some of their staff and 41% planned to reopen with a reduced staff.
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The Science Alliance of Tennessee, a consortium of six nonprofit science museums across the state, aims to do better than just survive these trying times.
With an annual economic impact of $ 44 million that has engaged over 1.1 million students, teachers and visitors to Tennessee, it is in everyone’s best interests that we continue to thrive.
In Middle Tennessee, the Adventure Science Center in Nashville, TN and the Discovery Center in Murfreesboro, TN, touch the lives of more than 500,000 people a year. Both institutions are dedicated to bringing families together for unique experiences and providing informal education to a wide variety of students and lifelong learners.
Institutions such as science centers and children’s museums have a long legacy of mission-oriented service to their communities, despite limited funding. We face the challenges of the pandemic with determination, examining our role and adapting to the changing landscape.
Science Alliance institutions quickly pivoted to produce new online programs that have helped families and students stay engaged, with learning activities that can be done at home. In addition, the Alliance has dedicated weekly updates to developing and reviewing reopening best practices to ensure the safety of our facilities for staff and guests.
Science education is more important than ever and we must come together to ensure the sustainability of these institutions. Here’s why:
- Museums are economic engines: Economic impact data compiled by the American Alliance of Museums and Oxford Economics show that the museum economy contributes $ 50 billion per year to the U.S. economy and generates $ 12 billion in tax revenue for local, state and federal governments.
- Museums are vital local sources of employment, supporting 726,000 direct and indirect jobs each year in the United States. Museums play a vital role in the country’s educational infrastructure, spending more than $ 2 billion annually on education. The destabilizing effects of the current crisis are jeopardizing the future of these contributions to the American economy and education system.
- Museums enjoy immense public support: According to a recent public opinion poll, 96% of Americans would positively believe their elected officials are taking legislative action to support museums, regardless of their political belief or size from the community. 97% of Americans think museums are educational assets, and 89% think museums contribute significant economic benefits to their community.
Museums are community centers and connectors to rural areas, responding to challenges in times of crisis like the one we are currently experiencing and providing “mobile” educational opportunities to underserved populations.
Today more than ever, cultural institutions such as science museums must be at the heart of philanthropic and government funding priorities. No one wants to imagine a world without unique spaces that celebrate curiosity, creativity, and problem solving.
We are therefore appealing to funders in the region to financially support our museums. We ask community members who are able to donate directly or share their experiences with our work on social media. Contact your federal or state officials and urge them to include museums in fundraising efforts.
Together, we can overcome these challenges and ensure that our communities continue to learn and grow towards a bright future.
The Science Alliance of Tennessee is dedicated to engaging Tennessees of all ages in hands-on learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and includes the following institutions: