Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center seeks financial support from the community

'Economic factors' are blamed for shortfall

When: Saturday, March 12, from 6 to 10 p.m.

Where: Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center,

990 S.W. Rock Creek Drive, Stevenson.

Theme: 'A Night on Gilligan's Island'

Cost: $40 per person until Monday, then $50 each

Contact: (509) 427-8211 or www.columbiagorge.org

When: Saturday, March 12, from 6 to 10 p.m.

Where: Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center,

990 S.W. Rock Creek Drive, Stevenson.

Theme: ‘A Night on Gilligan’s Island’

Cost: $40 per person until Monday, then $50 each

Contact: (509) 427-8211 or www.columbiagorge.org

The executive director of the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center plans to “tighten the ol’ belt,” in order to survive current economic challenges faced by the museum.

Sharon Tiffany said the estimated shortfall for this year is $25,000.

“Donations have not decreased,” she said. “Revenues from group tours are down — all due to the overall economic situation. Many schools are not funding field trips, and the cruise lines have decreased or stopped traveling the Columbia.”

In 2009, there were 18,656 visitors. Last year, there were 17,128. The center’s 2011 budget is close to $400,000.

Sources of revenue include general donations, interest from an endowment fund, museum memberships and admissions, store sales, money from events, and a percentage of the sale of artists’ work.

“We’re not going to close,” Tiffany said this morning. “We are adjusting the budget and concentrating on fund raising events and membership support.”

A dinner and silent auction will be held Saturday, March 12, at the center. Items for the silent auction have been donated by Columbia River Gorge artists and businesses in Camas and Washougal, as well as The Dalles, Hood River, White Salmon, Bingen, North Bonneville, Stevenson, Carson, Vancouver and Portland.

“The donor the farthest away is from Lookout Mountain, Tennessee,” Tiffany said. “We have one donor from Canada.”

Silent auction items include a hot air balloon ride for two with Vista Balloon Adventures, one night lodging and breakfast for two at the Columbia Gorge Hotel, white water rafting for two on the White Salmon River with Zoller’s Outdoor Odysseys, and season tickets for two to see the Vancouver Symphony.

Since its opening in 1995, more than 358,000 people have visited the interpretive center. The museum is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Skamania County Historical society, a 501-c-3 nonprofit organization.

The center’s board of directors has created an artifact benefactor program, which involves individuals contributing to specific artifacts. For a tax-deductible contribution, the donor’s name is added to the label of the artifact for one year. Donors also received family memberships, discounts on the use of the museum’s buildings and grounds, framed photographs with the artifacts and two tickets to an annual event.

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