City Council Finance Committee approves bailout for American Jazz Museum

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —┬áThe city’s finance committee approved spending $730,000 Wednesday to pay off the American Jazz Museum’s debt from the last year.

Committee members say the museum must make changes to receive a city subsidy for the next fiscal year.

Financial mismanagement at the tourist attraction prompted an operational review by the city. And chief among the recommendations are a change in the museum’s board and executive director.

In paying off the museum’s current debt, much of it the result of last year’s failed jazz festival, council members made it clear that a city subsidy for the next fiscal year, which begins May 1, is dependent on the museum creating a new board of directors and hiring new management.

The museum has agreed to make these changes by May 15, at which time the city may continue funding museum operations with an annual $750,000 subsidy.

“It’s time for us to move in a new direction,” said Councilman Jermaine Reed of the 3rd District. “Sometimes when you are cleaning house or you are doing your spring cleaning you got to make tough choices.”

Still unclear is the recommendation for closing the museum for up to a year while a new marketing strategy is implemented. Finance chair Scott Wagner says until a new board is in place and has time to develop a new plan, he sees no reason to close the 18th and Vine institution.

The proposal goes before the full council Thursday. A new museum board chair and director is expected to report to the finance committee on May 16.

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