The article entitled Pennies from Heaven in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) supplement to the Winnipeg Free Press newspaper on Saturday, September 20, 2014, was missing some words in the title. The suffix “Blowing Smoke” needed to be appended. The article provided what seems to be hyperbolic statistics for the CMHR’s financial contribution to the province.
250,000 visitors per year! Wow, that number is a third of the population of our province. It’s a third of the fans for a full arena at a Winnipeg Jets season. The attendance number is half of the fans for a full stadium at an entire Winnipeg Blue Bombers season.
Supporting 1300 new jobs, federal taxation of $16 million, provincial taxation of $15 million and $5 million municipal taxation. That’s a third of the monies the province has put towards infrastructure this year. It only took backing out of a promise to not raise provincial taxes to achieve the amount.
Based on the numbers provided for CMHR, I suggest the food vendors that line Broadway Avenue should move over to The Forks and setup shop in front of the museum. One person will pass through the doors of CMHR every minute of every day it is open; 705 people per day, not counting the 11 government statutory holidays.
Since 30 percent, or 75,000 of the people going to the museum will be from out of town, I hope someone has let the taxi cab companies know of the revenue stream. The Forks will need a taxi waiting area similar to the airport based on these numbers.
I recall another museum built in our nation’s capital. The Canadian Museum of Civilization (CMC) boasts actual attendance numbers of 1.4million per year. Those numbers are up from the predictions made in 2008. The Canadian War Museum is forecasting attendance at 475,000. Maybe a 250,000 for CMHR is not overstatement?
The CMC has a Maurice Richard exhibit complete with his Montreal Canadiens jersey. The National Gallery of Canada has a $1.8 million three stripe painting called Voice of Fire. CMHR can claim it has pretty disgruntled indigenous peoples included among the protesters greeting visitors.
Any attempt to justify the importance of arts and culture by expressing their contributions in financial terms creates a conundrum. Having CEO’s or vice-presidents throwing praise means less than the coloured beads collected by party goers at mardie gras. View a lamp shade made from human skin and you will ask how much do we spend to never have this happen again.
I only wish the reminders of our inhumanity would change the future, yet it doesn’t.