Aquarium, zoo, and museums appeal for federal aid
Ask delegation to press for huge bump in funding
TOP OFFICIALS at six of the Boston area’s top cultural attractions said on Tuesday that their survival and the survival of other institutions like them depends on a huge increase in federal aid to the nonprofit sector.
In a letter to the Massachusetts congressional delegation, the leaders of the New England Aquarium, the Boston Children’s Museum, the Museum of Science, Zoo New England, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Institute of Contemporary Art outlined a very specific set of requests.
The top item on the wish list is a $6 billion appropriation for the federal Institute of Museums and Library Services, which issues federal grants to zoos, aquariums, and museums. The institute received a $50 million appropriation under the recently passed CARES Act, but the officials said the need is far greater.
“This funding should be used to provide grants for operational support, distance learning, and pandemic recovery planning and implementation,” the institutions said in their letter.
“Combined, the items listed above represent the minimum required support mechanisms to ensure that Americans still have these venerable and treasured places of learning, inspiration, and connection in our communities when better days return,” the six officials said in their letter.Officials from the Aquarium, who provided a copy of the letter, said the shuttered institution is losing about $3.5 million a month and has been forced to lay off 43 full-time and 80 part-time employees and furlough 50 full-time employees. The officials said all furloughed and laid-off employees received two weeks notice pay and will continue to receive health care benefits for three months.
The letter was signed by Vikki Spruill, the president and CEO of the Aquarium; Carole Charnow, president and CEO of the Boston Children’s Museum; John Linehan, the president and CEO of Zoo New England; Tim Ritchie, president of the Museum of Science; Matthew Teitelbaum, the director of the Museum of Fine Arts; and Jill Medvedow, the director of the Institute of Contemporary Art.