Barn Dance Society concerned with lack of consultation - Aug. 30, 2018
BY DENNY SCOTT
The Barn Dance Historical Society’s board of directors feels it is being left out of the decision making process for the North Huron Museum.
The future of the museum, which houses a collection of artifacts related to the board, is currently being debated by North Huron Council, however, due to the upcoming municipal election, it can make no further decisions about moving the museum due to the lame duck period.
The current building doesn’t suffice for the needs of a museum, according to staff reports, leaving North Huron to look at moving it in the future.
While reports point to the train station in Wingham as a viable location for the museum, the site is smaller and will require the existing collection of the museum to be deaccessioned. Gord Baxter, a long-time member of the Barn Dance Historical Society, spoke to The Citizen this week and feels the Barn Dance artifacts aren’t being considered as part of the overall collection.
Baxter said he was shocked to see a story in The Citizen on Aug. 23 referring to the ongoing project as he hadn’t been contacted since early July, after having initially communicated with North Huron staff in March. He said the board, alongside fellow stakeholder the former Friends of the Museum group, were to be a part of the ongoing discussion, but had been left out of the planning.
Baxter said the Barn Dance Historical Society’s collection was under-represented in the reports, and that it was concerning for the future of the artifacts and the annual Barn Dance Historical Society Campout at the Blyth Campground.
“We have a fair economic impact in Blyth,” Baxter said. “With our event each spring, we donate a lot of dollars to various community groups.”
In an open letter to council from the society in this week’s issue of The Citizen, the groups that benefit from the event are listed as the Blyth and District Community Centre, the campgrounds, the Blyth Lions Club, Blyth Festival, Huron Pioneer Thresher and Hobby Association, the local legion and others. According to the letter, the group has donated $27,700 over the years through the campout.
That’s aside from the $4,500 the group paid annually for rent to the museum which was waived this year as the museum was closed.
While a meeting has been called in early September between North Huron staff and groups associated with the museum, Baxter said some of the information that was presented by council members in its previous discussions was confusing.
Baxter referenced Councillor Trevor Seip’s comments regarding the $30,000 increased price tag for running a more functional museum as being manageable. Baxter said if that were the case, why couldn’t some staff be hired to have the museum open this year.
“I just don’t know where [the council members’] thinking is,” he said.
The meeting will come too late to achieve change this year, Baxter said, as the museum-visiting season is basically over.
Baxter encouraged people to contact the Barn Dance Historical Society with any suggestions as where to move the collection in the future as the group wants to be prepared if there isn’t enough space for the collection at the new site.
“We don’t want to close things up or shut it down,” he said. “This is too impotant a piece of history for the municipality and Wingham for councillors to bury their heads in the sand.”
Baxter went on to say that, by sending the open letter, the group hopes to encourage both new and returning council members to make the museum a priority going forward.
For more information on the Barn Dance Historical Society, visit www.thebarndance.ca or 519-530-8000.