Georgia Music Hall of Fame to cut back days of operation

Days after the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame announced budget cuts for the new fiscal year, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame is following suit.

The music museum in downtown Macon will soon close on Sundays and Mondays, Executive Director Lisa Love said Tuesday, just as the sports hall is doing.

None of the music hall’s four full-time and seven part-time employees will be laid off, though, Love said. Rather, full-time employees will be furloughed one full day each month for the foreseeable future.

“We’re addressing our budget shortfall,” Love said. “We’re implementing as many budget-saving measures as possible without compromising the security of our visitors and the quality of our programs.”

Last year, the museum reduced its full-time staff from nine to four. Love said she didn’t know how much the upcoming moves would save.

“The savings is minimal, but it is savings nonetheless,” she said.

The museum’s budget for the new fiscal year, which begins today, was about $586,000 when the spending plan was approved in April, but Love said the state already has cut 3 percent from the monthly budget. The sports hall is undergoing similar budget cuts.

“The Georgia Music Hall of Fame is dependent on both public and private funding in order to operate the building and provide exhibitions and programs,” said Ken Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “We have had to make difficult, but necessary, cuts to our budget.”

The Sunday-Monday closings will take effect July 12 because the music hall is displaying the “Nashville Portraits” exhibition, which is scheduled to close July 10. That exhibit, which displays the work of Nashville photographer Jim McGuire, opened in May, replacing the museum’s award-winning exhibition devoted to Macon soul legend Otis Redding.

Karla Redding-Andrews, Redding’s daughter and chairman of the authority’s board, said the authority and employees are working to keep the museum open.

“It’s very difficult,” she said. “But these are difficult times, not just for the hall of fame but for the city, the county and the state as well. Lisa and myself, we are doing all we can to make sure the budget cuts stop here and the museum remains viable for the state of Georgia. ... I’m remaining optimistic. I don’t believe things will continue to decline.”

Love said she and her staff are doing the best they can in the face of more possible cuts.

“Any agency depending on state funding right now is in uncertain territory,” she said. “We’re trying to be fiscally conservative in the short term and look at sustainability in the long term.”

Like the sports hall, the music hall missed out on potential additional funding when the local legislative delegation failed to agree on using the county’s hotel/motel tax to earmark funds to both museums. That could have meant at least $100,000 to each institution.

State Rep. Allen Peake said last week that both museums could see more budget cuts if the state’s economic struggles continue.

“I can guarantee you the halls of fame will be a direct target,” said Peake, one of the main supporters of using the hotel/motel tax proceeds for the museums. “That’s why we needed that hotel/motel tax.”

The announcement comes in the midst of a flurry of programs at the music hall. The museum just wrapped up its second annual Otis Redding Music Camp last week, and it will host an early Fourth of July concert Friday featuring two performances by the 116th U.S. Army National Guard Band.

Later this month, the museum will host an exhibit dedicated to songwriter Johnny Mercer, beginning July 18.

“In this volatile economic climate, we remain dedicated to our mission,” Love said. “Although our staff is reduced, we’ve done a good job at maintaining our level of customer service. We’ve expanded our educational programming for kids beyond anything. The Otis Redding camp is a wonderful example of why this institution is important and what we are doing to touch the lives of people. It proves the Georgia Music Hall of Fame is worth fighting for.”

Information from The Telegraph’s archives was included in this report.