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City to sponsor Doleman Black Heritage Museum Fundraiser

September 08, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

The Hagerstown City Council gave its approval Tuesday to sponsor the Doleman Black Heritage Museum Fundraiser in October.

Former City Councilwoman Alesia Parson-McBean spoke on behalf of the museum.

Parson-McBean said Friends of the Doleman Black Heritage Museum was asking the city to donate $1,175 toward the cost of an Oct. 16 fundraiser.

The museum will host a masquerade ball with a Cotton Club twist this year, she said.

The city's donation would help offset the cost to feed the first 100 people at the fundraiser, she said. It would also help to pay the $175 for the program, she said.

Parson-McBean said the museum is a niche museum in a rural area and has struggled to get off the ground financially.

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"It has been established and acknowledged on the state level that it (fundraising) is almost impossible for a small African-American museum in a rural community," she said.

Still, the museum is in the process of using a $150,000 federal grant to hire a curator, she said.

The museum needs a curator to preserve, conserve and interpret the 4,500-piece collection, she said.

Councilman Forrest Easton was the only opponent to the city sponsoring the event as requested.

While Easton said he favored the city offering to provide advertising and public relations for the museum event, he said he found it difficult to sponsor the event at the full request when other nonprofits, the general fund and city employees took significant cuts in funding this year.

"I would propose looking at the $1,000 in cash that we gave last year and ... either take a 20 percent cut, 7 percent cut, 5.9 percent cut or 3.8 percent cut just like our employees did," he said.

Councilwoman Ashley Haywood ultimately gave her support to the request, after admitting to being on the fence. She said she would like to see a more-elaborate financial update from the museum.

"The only reason why I ask these questions is ... more and more we are asking for more-specific financial disclosures from those organizations in order to rationalize our donations," she said.

Other nonprofit funding has been cut from the city budget and those who were able to keep their funding were those who were able to show where the money was going in their budget, she said.

Parson-McBean said it is difficult to give the council a financial outlay for the museum without knowing if it can touch the hearts of men and women who have not given to the museum before.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said he was unsure if the council will need to vote on the request at its regular meeting this month. He said, if anything, the request would be a consent agenda item.

The museum also asked the council to issue a resolution of support for the museum that would help it offer tax credits to donors.

Every council member was in favor of the resolution, according to discussion Tuesday.

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