Friends of the Zeiss Statement of
Telephone: 412-561-7876 Allegheny Regional
Electronic Mail: < email@example.com > Asset District:
Internet Web Site: < http://www.friendsofthezeiss.org > 2005 August 29
Good evening, I am Glenn A.
Last year, the Children’s Museum Executive Director told you that the Children’s Museum would finish Fiscal Year 2005 with a surplus. And, sure enough, in the narrative of this year’s grant application, the Children’s Museum claims a small surplus. However, when I went to the financial report, I could not find this surplus!
I discussed this apparent discrepancy with Mr. Donahoe and Ms. Marks, last week. They suggested that with the addition of money from the Museum Endowment or cash reserves, and disregarding the Depreciation line-item, the claim of a surplus may be legitimate.
I do note that, in last year’s grant application, the Children’s Museum projected a balanced budget for FY 2005, including the Depreciation expense. And, for this balanced budget, they only projected using $69,000 of investment income; this year’s financial report shows that more than $535,000 was used in cash reserves. I also note that this year’s grant application reports that the ratio of unearned income to earned income is now 53% to 47% while the ratio prior to their expansion was 37% to 63%; their stated goal, for 2008, is a ratio of 40% to 60%.
Well, if the claim of a small surplus is legitimate, then the next question is whether this financial performance can be sustained in future years, once the novelty of the new building has worn-off—and, with the new challenge of continually escalating gasoline prices? Moreover, can they return to the 60% range for earned income?
The Children’s Museum seems to understand the challenge in front of them, as they are now proposing an advertising campaign for the first quarter of next year to attempt to expand the audience they serve. When I spoke to you last year and suggested that the return and operation of historic Buhl Planetarium artifacts could expand their audience and increase their revenue, I was questioned whether they could, then, still be considered a Children’s Museum.
Well, the ad campaign will seek to convince 8-to-13 year-olds that the Children’s Museum is a “cool” place to be! Particularly considering their current exhibits, how many early teenagers do you know that would think of the Children’s Museum as a “cool” place to be?
The Children’s Museum does need to expand their audience. I urge you to ask them to reconsider this ad campaign-—and do something that could really expand their audience. Return several of the historic Buhl Planetarium artifacts to operation in the building, particularly the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector that, prior to its 2002 dismantling, was the oldest operable major planetarium projector in the world !!!
[Reverse Side – Children’s Museum FY 2006 Grant Application excerpt:
Ad Campaign aimed at 8-13 year-olds]