BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is facing a projected six-figure deficit.
In a special called meeting Friday, the BCRI told Parks and Recreations and the Committee of the Whole that they are projecting a shortage of $600,000 by the end of the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2020.
Head of the institute, Andrea Taylor, and chair of the board Isaac Cooper said it costs roughly $3 million dollars to run the institute each years.
Cooper said two years ago the institute lost critical funding by way of a fundraiser that generated $300,000 a year and that contributed to the shortfall.
Also, with a practically new board of directors, the BCRI told council they are still working to figure out their finances.
Our requests for comment on the issue were not returned by the time this article was published.
Birmingham council president William Parker was optimistic about the future of the Birmingham Civil Rights institute despite its financial woes.
“I think it goes without saying the Civil Rights Institute is going to be in existence for the next hundred years,” said Birmingham council president William Parker.
Parker said it costs more to operate the museum than they are bringing in through fundraising and sales.
First-time visitor Sandra Robinson from Demopolis says the museum is invaluable.
“It’s where we came from, where we started out. It’s very important for the children to know,” said Rosinson.
Robinson offered ideas on how to increase funding.
“It’s a business. They should treat it as so. Advertisement, get the word out,” advised Robinson.
Parker said the solution to the shortfall is multi-facetted.
“How do we increase tourism into the city of Birmingham? How do we increase tourism in the Civil Rights District? More importantly, how do we connect that corridor of Legion Field and the Civil Rights District? How do we grow that entire area,” asked Parker. “That’s what we’ve been talking about with sports tourism and how do we connect that with the entertainment tourism and so that’s going to be part of that larger conversation.”
Cooper told council the BCRI has a short-term plan to increase funding:
- Immediately address current projected shortfall.
- Appoint and ratify new board members (done Aug. 2019)
- Over the next 3-5 years increase foot traffic and programs.
- Implement a membership program in 2020 and grow to 2,020 members by end of June, 2020.
The BCRI did not ask the city for money to bridge the financial gap but said they may need the city to increase annual funding.
Parker said another meeting will likely happen in March.