Proposal to charge visitors at Roswell Museum fails in city council

New Mexico News

ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Roswell is looking to start charging visitors to the Museum and Arts Center in order to become self-sufficient. The hope is money from visitors, would offset the operating costs of the place. The museum is looking for answers after the city council voted against the idea.

“It also has that connotation; well it’s free, it can’t be worth that much or it’s a quality museum,” said Barry Foster, Roswell City Councilor.

The city of Roswell decided they wanted to allow the Roswell Museum and Arts Center to start charging its visitors, to work towards the ultimate goal of becoming self-sufficient, and not rely on money from the city’s budget.

“It’s hard to calculate exactly how much charging admissions may bring in but I estimate somewhere between $75 to $100,000 in a non-pandemic year based on 14,000 annual visitors. That would be a 50% to 65% increase in revenues,” said Caroline Brooks the Museum Director.

The city council voted last Thursday on the resolution but failed to pass because it needed a big majority. It only passed by a 5 to 3 vote. Because two councilors missed the meeting, it can be brought back in for a vote which councilor Barry Foster says needs to happen.

“Citizens of Roswell were paying for those people to walk through that museum. It really isn’t the citizens’ responsibility to pay for someone else to walk through that museum and so we started to try and figure out what we could do,” said Foster.

The Roswell Museum and Arts Center has never charged a fee in its 85 years of being open but Councilor Foster believes that it’s time to start giving the museum more funds.

Brooks said they have implemented special pricing for locals and some special event days will be free to everyone. “So with charging admissions we foresee an increase of income and the ability to straighten the overall financial position of the museum. What we want to avoid, is a decrease in attendance. So we, therefore, implemented free days and different pricing levels to try to accommodate everyone’s needs,” Brooks said.

The city council and the museum director both said they believe the resolution will appear on the October city council agenda for a revote.

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