The Fresno Bee declares the local museum, the Fresno Met, all but dead. The story is pretty clear: Fresno itself is broke and it loaned too much money to the museum. Now it needs the money back and there’s no one else to pay the museum’s bills:
Met officials said ticket revenue and attendance are meeting expectations, but donations and grants, the lifeblood of any nonprofit, privately supported museum, have slowed to a trickle. They declined to give details.
The significance of The Met’s precarious future extends beyond museum employees and customers. Museum officials in 2007 persuaded the City Council to guarantee a $15 million bank loan to complete a renovation that was significantly over budget.
The Met defaulted, and the city this year paid off the loan while taking title to museum property. The two sides signed a deal designed to keep the museum in business and give the city some hope of recouping at least part of its investment.
The city, which borrowed about $16 million from its treasury to pay the loan and some other Met debts, expects to go to the bond market in February or March to secure long-term financing and repay the city treasury.
The city has its own serious financial troubles and must repay the city treasury for the Met borrowings by summer. A key part of its plan for handling its Met obligations is a federal tax-credit program that would generate nearly $4 million for the city to lighten the amount it must borrow on the bond market.
Fresno’s Ailing Met Museum Faces Closure (Fresno Bee)