Governors first budget cuts hit home at local museums

GULFPORT, MS. (WLOX)- The sounds of children at play are a near constant in the fun and learning environment of Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport. But it's the sounds of construction at their new fine arts and education center that could be silenced by state budget cuts.

"Right now we have a theater that's in transition," says Lynn Meadows Executive Director Cynthia Minton. "There is no funding in this phase to complete that theater but we are doing amendments and adjustments to it so we still need a sizable amount of funding that will need to be raised to complete the final process."

And Minton says that kind of economic uncertainty looms like a dagger over every current and future project and program they have planned.

"We're in the budget process too," says Minton. "So we need to know if the possibility exist now for us to be tapping into grant sources that they might offer."

The same holds true for Gayle Petty Johnson, the Executive Director of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs.

"It's a tough job but they never said it was going to be easy," says Johnson.

She says expansion plans, along with some of the programs they offer may have to be cut back. But she says while everyone will be taking on additional roles, she's not cutting back on staff or the important role the museum plays in South Mississippi's rich artistic community.

"I going to have to lean a lot harder on the staff for some of the other things so I can just be raising money," says Johnson. "That's going to be my mantra for a while."

by Don Culpepper