Raising funds and earning revenue is a consistent issue, as partners are often challenged by the shared responsibility of establishing financial growth and sustainability.
Operators report a lack of consistent operating funding and support to operate at a dynamic level. Owners describe having overstretched financial resources spread across multiple sites. There are also third parties, contributing significant amounts of funds to operations without a formal voice in site management.
Issues arise when there is a lack of revenue generation or fundraising expertise within the operating and supporting third parties. While heritage focused organizations and community groups bring passion and activism, they are often challenged by the realities of running a business. Government owned sites often navigate fundraising limitations to due public perceptions and limited eligibility for grants. Efforts to sustain a site financially can distract from preserving the site.
Consider introducing a third party to the partnership to support fundraising. Third party community groups can often access funding not available to governments or government affiliated organizations. Community groups typically represent the interests of the local community and may have more success reaching those with funds to share. Keep in mind that this is not a “quick fix”, as fundraising requires a coordinated effort among all partners. Including third parties is about leveraging financial resources in the community.
Historic sites require a specialized system of care that draws on shared resources and individual strengths. The complexities of such create issues in building and site maintenance, as partners find it difficult to translate roles and responsibilities from the agreement into the realities of day-to-day operations.
Weak partnerships affect the ways that stories are told at historic sites, limiting the development of sound interpretive strategies that effectively engage citizens and visitors. Interpretation is most often addressed almost entirely by operators with the support of third parties and high level oversight of site owners.