After reading the AJC's story about the financial hard times that have fallen upon the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon, I asked the museum's Executive Director, Lisa Love to explain the situation further.
Here's what she had to say,
"It is a very difficult time for all businesses, particularly non-profits. The Hall of Fame's business plan from day one has depended on state funding. An early feasibility study was anything but feasible in its projection that the museum would attract 150,000 visitors per year, when the museum has actually averaged between 25,000-35,000 paid visitors over the past 13 years. Macon has an incredible inventory of attractions, including historic homes like the Hay House, the Tubman African-American Museum, the Music and Sports Halls of Fame and the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds, but the city has been slow in creating and executing a comprehensive plan for downtown revitalization. Therefore, we are not even close to the foot traffic in Macon we need to help sustain not just us, but all of these valuable institutions.
While our earned income is directly affected by the surrounding market, there are also challenges with generating contributed income. Donors to any non-profit must have a strong emotional connection our natural constituents are the inductees, artists and music industry. Yet few inductees live in Macon and there is no music industry here. Compare us with the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville - most country music artists live there, the country music industry is headquartered there and Nashville has strategically positioned itself over the past 20 years as a music tourism destination.
We need to cultivate donors among the inductees, artists, industry figures and fans who understand what a cultural asset music is for Georgia, who get how staggering our music heritage is and how vibrant the scenes across the state are and who realize that the diversity of our musical landscape says something incredibly powerful about our state's musicians. But to do that, we have to physically get them down to Macon and that has proved a challenge from day one.
So now that the state's tides have turned and they can no longer afford to fund both the Music AND the Sports Halls of Fame, two 43,000 square foot buildings sitting adjacent to one another, and given that the city and county do not contribute anything to the museums, change is inevitable. My board and I are evaluating the financial challenges of operating the bricks-and-mortar in downtown Macon and what options exist, but bottom line is that the Georgia Music Hall of Fame institution, and its programs of collection, exhibition, education and performance, will go on. We want to provide expanded public access to our assets and to provide value to communities throughout the state. I'm proud that during my leadership in the past three years we have been able to not only bring more people from around the world to Macon with exhibits like the recent Otis Redding one, but we've also reached out across the state. We currently have the exhibit "Our Music Is Georgia Music" at Stone Mountain Park, we partner with local events like Savannah Music Festival, AthFest, the Thomas Dorsey Festival and others, we have Georgia Music promotion at nine of the state's eleven visitors and Georgia Music Magazine reaches thousands of readers each issue.
We have a huge job ahead of us, but when I look at the kind of adversity that artists like Brenda Lee, Ray Charles and Otis Redding overcame to reach their dreams, I find strength. And it is their legacies and achievements and the goal of preserving and sharing them that make the challenge seem so honorable and worthwhile."
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Yes, 14 is the correct answer. I'll pass your info along to the group's manager,…
That was January of 2007, and they are 21 now, so I'm guessing 14?
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