Kids participate in the 2011 Way Off Broadway Fundraiser for the museum (Manitoba Children's Museum)
We run a pretty tight ship here...We'd have to look really hard at what programs would be affected.
—Lisa Dziedic, Manitoba Children's Museum
Manitoba Children's Museum staff will be watching when city council votes today on the proposed 2013 operating and capital budgets. When first presented, the fiscal roadmaps included 10 per cent reductions in funding to the Children's Museum, the St. Boniface Museum, Manitoba Theatre for Young People and a host of other non-profits.
Public outcry over the proposed cuts has prompted two city councillors to suggest a smaller drop of five per cent but Lisa Dziedic, director of marketing and communications for the Children's Museum, says for a charity already looking at ways to stay lean, any cut hurts.
"Last year we eliminated one position and another two dropped to part time," Dziedic says. "We run a pretty tight ship here...We'd have to look really hard at what programs would be affected."
Free2Play, the museum program that provides free tickets to the museum for roughly 5,000 kids annually, may be affected if the cuts hold. Children come to Free2Play from a variety of sectors, some attend inner-city schools who qualify for the program due to low neighbourhood income, while others connect through the non-profit agencies supporting their recent immigration to Canada.
Dziedic has seen the impact Free2Play's arts programs have had. "The program sparks creative learning. There are educational benefits, with a different learning experience than classrooms provide. There are the physical benefits from all the activity that goes on," she says.
"We worked with a young girl, about eight or nine, in our Way Off Broadway dance program. This was a girl who had never been comfortable performing, getting up in front of others. Through working with our team, she got to the point where she could present herself with confidence in front of others. Her mom was in tears when she told me about the changes she saw in her daughter -- it was something she didn't expect," Dziedic explains.
While it's not certain Free2Play will be trimmed in response to the City of Winnipeg's new budget, Dziedic acknowledges there are only three responses to a funding reduction: finding other donors, trimming programs or raising entrance fees.