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Fort Museum recovering well from pandemic woes

The Fort Museum has successfully weathered difficult times brought on by a world-wide pandemic and tourism industry slump.

A positive report was presented on the past year during the museum’s annual general meeting Thursday.

“The museum continues to have a bright and exciting future,” Fort Macleod Historical Association president Bob Gunn said.

“COVID-19 is behind us, and the tourism industry is rebounding in a positive way.”

Thirteen people turned out in person and virtually for the annual general meeting, which featured reports from the auditor, executive director and others.

Brian Nelson of Avail presented the audited financial statement on Thursday.

The Fort Museum had revenues totalling $416,110 against $443,398 in expenses, leaving a shortfall of $27,288.

The museum received $5,967 in grants which reduced the deficiency to $21,321.

“When you look at it overall we were not quite where we wanted to be on the revenue side,” Nelson said.

Nelson noted the museum’s cash position had improved in 2022, climbing to $261,936 by the end of the year from $251,398 at the start.

“I think we’re in a strong financial position,” Nelson said of museum operations.

Museum executive director Sandi Davis reported attendance in 2022 was 8,811, which was up by 4,089 over last year and an 87 per cent increase from before the pandemic.

Of those visitors last year, 1,201 were tour bus passengers.

The Red Coasts program attracted 950 people, and 20 people took the opportunity to participate in the Groom A Horse program.

Davis touched on other success in the past year, including:

  • The Fort Museum developed new partnerships with regional elders who helped remodel the Blackfoot Gallery.
  • A new interactive display was installed in the main gallery thanks to a Healthy Communities Initiative grant.
  • The Fort Museum received community donations through a partnership with the Stronghold Brewery and the “community tap” program.
  • A donation of period costumes was provided to the staff.
  • New 2023 Fort Museum calendars were developed to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the North West Mounted Police.

A committee has been struck to plan anniversary celebrations this summer, which includes a visit from the RCMP Musical Ride.

Davis noted that a shortfall in government summer employment grants reduced the number of students hired for the Mounted Patrol.

As a result, the Musical Ride was performed five days a week, and not seven as usual.

There were also reports on the museum’s collections and archives, fund-raising and marketing.

In his comments, Bob Gunn said the successful year was a direct result of dedicated, hard-working staff, engaged board members, generous partners including the Town of Fort Macleod, and a supportive community.

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