Council reveals confidential report on museum finances

A REPORT revealing detailed information about the financial predicament of the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka has been published on the City of Ballarat's website.

The 'M.AD.E Financial Update', which was considered by councillors during an in-camera discussion at a council meeting on April 9, was designated as confidential information under Section 89(2)(d) of the Local Government Act as a contractual matter.

But the report is currently published on the council's 'Agenda's and Minutes 2014' page.

Update, 10.25am: The document has been removed from the council's website. Click here to download a copy of the PDF from The Courier. The report begins on page 6.

The council has previously released some details of the museum's financial problems, including the fact M.A.D.E exceeded its operating budget in just seven months. The overrun has been, in part, attributed to capital costs of the centre, which opened in May last year.

But not all details were presented to the public.

The report sheds more light on the museum's operations, stating that 100 people on average visited M.A.D.E per day this financial year including paid and free of charge entry, local children and education visitors.

The museum was originally forecast to achieve revenue of $2.26 million annually, but made $286,420 in its first six months of operation.

Meanwhile, the report says operating costs were $29,000 a week.

Admissions averaged just $2500 a week and the facility's overall income was $6200 weekly including merchandise sales.

"To provide a context for these numbers, the central library caters for 800 visitors per day with an operating cost to council of $14,650 per week," the report states.

Labour costs for M.A.D.E were also $1.2 million annually compared with, the report states, $725,000 for the Ballarat Library.

Several options to alter the museum's focus have now been put to councillors, the report confirms.

Transforming the museum into a Ballarat archive centre has been explored, but the $19 million cost to build the storage facility is considered beyond the council's resources.

Regional Development Victoria also made it "extremely clear" the state would also not be funding M.A.D.E further.

But "rescoping" M.A.D.E into a history and research centre is one option still on the table.

It would have implications for the museum however, with potential pressure to return the Eureka flag to the art gallery or reducing opening hours.

The council's chief executive officer Anthony Schinck said the report was mistakenly published due to a clerical error.

He said the item has since been removed from the council's website.

"Council takes care to manage sensitive information, and it is unfortunate that this error has been made," Mr Schinck said.

"Councillors regularly receive detailed information in a confidential format which enables them to make informed decisions."

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