Changes coming to Albany Civil Rights Institute - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Changes coming to Albany Civil Rights Institute

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Big changes are coming to an underutilized Albany attraction. The Albany Civil Rights Institute has had problems in the past including low attendance to the resignation of its director. Now new leaders are bringing renewed hope and getting financial support from the city.

Last month marked a year since the ribbon was cut on a more than $3-million improvement to the Albany Civil Rights Institute. But like many museums across the country, attendance is down along with donations. There's also another problem.

"We're just like all the other cultural organizations in town. We have a building but we don't have any operating funds," said ACRI Board of Directors Vice-Chair Dr. Michael Rogers.

Because of that problem, museum leaders paid a visit to one of the few sources they could think of for funding. "It's very difficult to get any operating funds from anyplace else but the city," said Rogers.

They requested a total of $150,000 to be split over three years. The request got some resistance from commissioners but not because they don't want to help.  Commissioner Bob Langstaff says budget requests should be made during the budget planning process.

"That's the right way to do it. I think we have to budget for all of our cultural stuff," said Langstaff.

There were two "no's", but the majority of commissioners approved the financial request. "I feel really good about the vote," said Rogers.

The money will help fund a new Executive Director who will help the museum regroup with a renewed focus on building membership, marketing, donations and grants. "We now know that we have the leadership to turn the Albany Civil Rights Institute into an organization that is going to support the city and bring tourists here from all over the world," said Rogers.

The museum's board of directors also want to strengthen from within and with other local organizations and schools.  These are goals they feel they can reach over the next three years. "These three years we're confident we'll be self-sustainable so we don't foresee coming back," said Rogers.

The ultimate goal? Making the museum the local gem that everyone feels it should be.

The museum does get some financial help from Mount Zion Baptist Church and the yearly King Day Celebration. The city commission will formally approve the request at their next meeting.

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