The Loudoun County government has set the terms of its Loudoun Museum bailout.
According to the Memorandum of Agreement approved by county supervisors on Thursday, members of the museum’s Board of Trustees will now be required to raise or give $3,000 annually, or lose out on $150,000 in financial support from the county.
The county staff, working with the museum, had recommended a $2,000 requirement, but supervisors voted narrowly for a $1,000 increase. Department of Management and Budget staffer Megan Bourke said the staff could recommend a higher fundraising threshold in the future, but had heard that $2,000 is a “daunting feat” for museum trustees now.
“As the museum board turns over and is reconstituted, and there are members serving in that capacity that have more financial means, I think that conversation can be reintroduced,” Bourke said.
Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) agreed that $2,000 is a number in line with similar requirements at other, larger charitable organizations, such as Morven Park, which requires $2,500 of its board members, or Oatlands, which requires $3,000.
“I think the Loudoun Museum needs to walk before they can run, and I’m sure that if it’s that easy to raise this money, they’ll be able to raise that amount in the near future,” Higgins said.
Higgins is a trustee on the museum’s board.
Nonetheless, Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling) pushed for the higher number.
“If they feel that $2,000, or $3,000 or $4,000 is a daunting task for them to help raise for the organization that they say they care about, then they probably need to reassess whether they need to be on that board,” Saines said.
Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) agreed.
“The reality is, there needs to be a different type of board of directors with different people on it,” Letourneau said. “We can’t explicitly make that happen in the MOU, but we can kind of gear it in that direction.”
He also said the county has plenty of people of “significant means.”
The board voted 5-3-1 to approve the $3,000 requirement. Supervisors Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg), Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin), and Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) opposed the higher figure; Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) was away.
Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding, the county will give the museum a total of $156,000 in quarterly installments as the museum meets certain benchmarks to restructure the organization and hire an executive director to put the museum back on track.
The museum will also create a Program Advisory Board for supporters who want to serve the museum but not commit to giving at least $3,000 annually. The museum will meet monthly with the county staff to check on its progress. The memo also considers the possibility of the museum closing its doors while it restructures.
The memo is a yearlong agreement; the county may terminate or renew at will. The modified Memorandum of Agreement was approved 7-1. Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run), who opposed the deal, has questioned whether the county should be in the business of bailing out the museum at all.
Letourneau issued a call to Loudoun’s wealthy philanthropists from the dais.
“I will go ahead and issue a public call right now to the folks who care about history and preservation in Loudoun County,” Letourneau said. “Come on in and be an angel and save this organization and write a big check. We’ll put you on the board of directors—they’ll put you on the board of directors—you can assist some other board members, and let’s save this thing, because that’s really what it’s going to take long-term.”