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Yellowstone Art Museum faces $100,000 in cuts from county funding

YAM funding cuts
Posted at 8:31 AM, Jun 11, 2024

BILLINGS — The Yellowstone Art Museum could face up to $100,000 of funding cuts after an announcement made on May 28 by the Yellowstone County commissioners' office, which would impact educational programs, jobs, and museum accessibility.

Jessica Ruhle, the executive director of the museum, said they were given a 30-day notice for the abrupt decision. If the cuts go through, they would see an immediate reduction of about $22,000 and then a gradual decrease to $100,000 over the next two years through 2026. And while the budget would be moved to other museums that receive funding from the county commissioners, Ruhle says that these changes should not come from within the same area.

“The YAM is really grateful that the county commissioners have supported our museum and other county museums for decades now. It's a tremendous investment in the cultural fabric of our community," said Ruhle. "We want to see those museums thrive and grow and expand; we simply don’t want to see the funding that helps make that happen come from the arts."

The museum would see the most change in its educational outreach programs, which have the most budget flexibility . It is uncertain what these changes would look like.

"If the county stands by this decision and the commissioners keep our annual allocation reduced, we’ll really have to investigate where those cuts can come from, and the art work (here that) is a part of our K-12 program in the schools. We have our amazing camps happening right now. They’re going on throughout the summer, and those are the kinds of things where we might have to make really difficult decisions going forward," said Ruhle. "It would be heartbreaking for us."

These cuts could also undermine the museum's impact on economic development and tax revenue generation.

“We see that a tax base grows by five dollars for every dollar a community spends on its museums, and so thinking about a $100,000 budget cut to the Yellowstone Art Museum can impact our tax base by about as much as a half a million dollars," said Ruhle.

The museum is urging people to attend the county commissioners public hearing at 9 a.m. June 26 in the Stillwater Building in the BOCC Board Room to voice their concerns. MTN reached out to the county commissioners office to comment and they say to expect a written response by Tuesday.

Click here for more information from the Yellowstone Art Museum about these potential cuts.