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'Every little bit helps' from Historical Society holiday bazaar

Sunday, November 21, 2010 | 5:40 p.m. CST
From left, Erma Pauley and Ann Sullivan discuss Sullivan's jewelry at the Boone County Historical Society Museum fundraiser on Saturday. In addition to making jewelry, Sullivan also is a paraprofessional educator, or teaching assistant, who helps at Rock Bridge HIgh School.

COLUMBIA —After last year's funding cut of more than 50 percent, the Boone County Historical Society's annual holiday fund raiser Saturday was more important than ever for the organization.

“Things like (the holiday fund raiser) are vital to help the organization to survive and grow, " said Vicki Pauley, a volunteer fundraiser. "Every little bit helps.”

Altogether, there were 24 vendors selling baked goods, crafts, candy, jewelry among other gift items at the bazaar, which is part of the overall fund-raising efforts of the Historical Society. At least 300 people attended.

Last year, proceeds from the bazaar totaled about $1,000. 

“I'd like to raise at least as much as we did last year and hope for a 20 percent increase,” said Jenifer Flink, executive director and curator for the organization.

The event isn't a big revenue producer, Flink said, but “half a grapefruit is better than no grapefruit.”

Last year, the Boone County Commission cut the funding for the Historical Society by more than half, to $10,000 from $21,000. The City of Columbia also cut funding to $6,500 from $8,000, almost a 19 percent decrease.

"It was a blow," Flink said. “We didn’t know that the county had cut their funding to us by more than 50 percent until Jan. 4 of this year. That hurt us tremendously.”

The Historical Society had to cut one staff position because of the budget situation and turned to volunteers to fill the gap. 

“We have one full-time and two part-time staff now,” Flink said. “We have 32 wonderful volunteers. They are the backbone of the museum.”

The reduced funding also affected the Historical Society's programming.

“It’s a very business-like decision," Flink said, talkig about the process of deciding which events the organization could afford to offer. "'Can we produce revenue?' is equally important to reaching audience.”

The Historical Society has also had to consider charging for some events. 

Besides funding from Boone County and the city, which cover 15 percent of the Historical Society's budget this year, an endowment trust and member dues cover about 28 percent of the Historical Society’s operating costs. The rest comes from fundraising.

“That’s how we make a difference,” Flink said.

Tracy Fetters, who was shopping at the bazaar, said budget cuts often hurt the arts.

"I think it is unfortunate,” she said. “The museum is part of Boone County history. If the museum is not here, we will lose a lot of history."

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