State funding for International African American Museum cut from next year’s budget

by Drew Tripp & Megan Rivers

Sketch of International African American Museum (FILE)

A state budget compromise reached by a joint House and Senate committee May 31 does not include funding for the International African American Museum in the upcoming fiscal year.

The Senate originally allocated $4 million for the museum as part of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism’s funding in the upcoming 2017-18 budget year.

That money for the project, estimated to cost $75 million to complete, is no longer included in the version of the budget bill going before both chambers of the General Assembly this week for debate.

The museum’s funding is among numerous items slashed from next year’s budget, as the state finds itself footing the bill for more than $60 million in cleanup costs caused by Hurricane Matthew.

Construction funding plans for the museum have local government, state government and private fundraisers each covering one third of the projected cost, according to museum CEO Michael Boulware Moore.

Former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said Monday the state so far has provided approximately $14 million of the $25 million it promised. However, Moore says government officials have placed a caveat on fulfilling the rest of their commitment.

“We’ve learned (state legislators) want us to get to 100 percent of the private fundraising before they invest further,” Moore said Monday.”

Moore says despite not receiving state funding in the coming year, the plan is still for the state to fund a third of the costs.

“The state has been very supportive,” Moore said. “Although we would have liked to be in this year’s budget, we understand this unforeseen requirement for funding. Our team will redouble efforts to raise the private funds required for this project.”

As of April, museum officials said they were only $18-$19 million shy of the total funding needed.

Riley said Monday private fundraising for the museum is going very well, and museum officials expect to reach their $25 million goal for private fundraising this year.

“Once that is achieved, we are confident the state will provide the remaining $11 million,” Riley said.

Construction on the museum, planned for a site on Gadsden’s Wharf on the Charleston Harbor, is set to begin in 2018. Charleston’s Board of Architectural Review approved final construction plans for the museum in March.

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