El Paso Community Foundation President Eric Pearson says the Children’s Museum is going to be an economic driver. From KVIA:
“We went and said, if we were going to do a world class museum and do it well and attract people from the region, U.S., Juarez and Chihuahua and Mexico City to come to this museum and enjoy themselves and make it a real economic driver what do we have to spend? And that’s what we came up with.”
Uh, yeah. No.
Nobody takes their kids on vacation to see a Children’s Museum. They take them to Disneyland. Camping. Skiing. To visit relatives.
The Kids Vacation industry is huge. They spend a lot of money on advertising. El Paso doesn’t have a chance of chipping into that market.
We might be able to draw daytrippers from Van Horn (if we do, San Jacinto Plaza will knock their socks off), but no one will plan their vacations around a trip to the El Paso Children’s Museum. Mexico City, Juarez, and Chihuahua already have world class children’s museums. Albuquerque had a zoo, aquarium, bug-a-torium, a children’s museum, and that wacky funhouse that Geroge R.R. Martin, et al, built in an old bowling alley. [Correction: Meowolf is actually in Santa Fe, an easy light rail trip from Albuquerque.] If you’re going to take your kids on a science theme vacation, are you going to El Paso, or Albuquerque?
If the El Paso Children’s Museum has any effect on El Paso’s economy, that effect will be lower profits at the other children’s entertainment centers in El Paso, like Adventure Zone, and Jungle Jaks, and children’s programs at the museums. And maybe some of those businesses will fail, and those citizens may move away, and the rest of us will be further burdened by higher taxes and fewer options.
So let’s skip the argument that the El Paso Children’s Museum will be an economic driver for anyone but downtown real estate speculators and the private partners of public/private partnerships.
The old Children’s Museum got a lot of schools down there but it had no real support from the city, the county, or businesses. This museum is an abomination. It’s twice as big as the Museum of History (underfunded and a redheaded step child) and the Art Museum combined. The designs have NO bearing on El Paso, they’re ugly. They’re also playing the bait and switch tactic. The budget was 19 million as originally planned, now they want 60 million? Bond issue number 2 was budgeted at 228.25 million in the bond issue. With the price of the performing arts center, the added cost for the hispanic cultural center (which wasn’t what it was called), this museum, the library additions and improvements, and the digital wall (which isn’t attracting anyone because it’s poorly executed), the projected cost bond number 2 is around 280 million and climbing. The state law needs to be changed so that 1. there can only be one item on a bond issue, 2. the budget has to be set, and 3. if the bond cannot be performed at that cost plus maybe 10%, it’s automatically null.
Museums as a whole are strictly money losers and all of ours are taxpayer-funded. Why? Why does “art” get to be the on the receiving end of so much taxpayer funding when streets and everything else seem to be at the bottom of the list? The whole “Hunger Games” style “art” installed at I-10 and Airway is a ridiculous use of taxpayer funding and is an eyesore to boot. No one voted for that and it doesn’t seem to serve any actual purpose. Why do “artists” get benefits that nurses and mechanics do not? Are “artists” somehow better than “regular” people? Museums should not be taxpayer funded, they should be funded by patrons, the same patrons who apparently decide how and what the museum displays will be, because that is all subjective. History didn’t used to be subjective but now it seems that everything is up to debate, so let the people who want to show their “version” of history and truth pay for the privilege of doing that.