Kansas City looks at taking over struggling jazz museum
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A jazz museum that’s plagued by operating losses and bounced checks to musicians could be headed for a takeover by Kansas City.
City Council members Jermaine Reed and Scott Wagner introduced an ordinance Thursday that asks officials to study the transfer of the American Jazz Museum to the Parks and Recreation Department by next spring, The Kansas City Star reported .
The measure includes $225,000 to help the museum meet payroll.
The 20-year-old museum located in the historic 18th and Vine district currently operates in a city-owned building but under an independent board. The institution has been unable to raise the money necessary to stand on its own financially.
Wagner said the museum has already spent its annual city subsidy for the fiscal year that ends next April.
Reed sent a letter this week to city and museum officials outlining a proposal to move the museum, the Blue Room jazz club and the Gem Theater to the Parks Department. He said the city has an obligation to safeguard its assets.
“It is clear business as usual will not suffice,” Reed said. “The Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners has a long history of full collaboration with neighborhood groups and business leaders in managing certain city-owned assets and tourist sites such as the Kansas City Zoo, the Liberty Memorial, Starlight Theatre and the Kansas City Museum.”
The museum’s financial difficulties became apparent earlier this year when performers from a May jazz festival realized their checks from the museum had bounced. The performers were owed $150,000 at one point.
“They have issues of sustainability and economy. It can’t be ignored anymore,” Wagner said.
City Manager Troy Schulte said there are no legal obstacles to a city takeover of the museum.
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com