Arrowtown museum fights fiscal woes

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Trading losses and post-earthquake structural fears are “concerning” Arrowtown’s Lakes District Museum, deputy chair Pam Wilson says. 

The museum announced last week that some of its four full-time and seven part-time employees may be at risk in a financial revamp aimed at cutting costs and boosting income. 

The four full-timers include long-time museum boss David Clarke, a former Queenstown Lakes District councillor. 

Few details were known about the museum’s specific troubles until yesterday (Sunday) when Mountain Scene asked Wilson to elaborate. 

With the paper obtaining accounts for the 2009 and 2010 financial years showing losses of $17,000 and $9000 respectively, Wilson was asked whether things are even worse this year. 

“Yes, the financial situation has got worse because even though we’re a charitable trust, any business in this area and in these economic times certainly is affected by the economic environment,” she says. 

“Some things [must be] reorganised to at least halt or prevent the decline.” 

Mountain Scene: There’s a healthy balance sheet so you’d presumably want to say there’s no danger of having to shut? 

Wilson: “We would certainly hope that would not be the case.” 

The Christchurch earthquakes may result in “rigorous testing” being required for all buildings used by the public, she says. 

The museum is housed in the vintage 1875 former Bank of New Zealand building on Arrowtown’s main street. 

“We’re currently looking into those aspects to see if there are financial implications for the museum.” 

It could be another month before the reorganisation plan is announced, Wilson says. 

The two trading arms – the museum itself and the post office opposite – operate on thin margins. 

From a profit of $23,000 in the 2008 year, the museum side then lost $25,000 and $16,000 in 2009 and 2010. 

The post office made a profit of $11,000 in 2008, dropping to $8000 in 2009 and $7000 last year.