ST. CHARLES – Outgoing St. Charles History Museum Executive Director Alison Costanzo appeared before the St. Charles City Council's Government Operations Committee on Monday to ask for a $6,000 increase in annual funding from the city.
Costanzo, who has served as the museum's executive director since 2015, is leaving her post at the end of March to become the new executive director at the Lombard Historical Society. She previously served as Educator and Victorian Site Coordinator at the Lombard Historical Society before starting at the St. Charles History Museum.
"I just wanted to say what a privilege and an honor it has been to serve as the executive director for the St. Charles History Museum," Costanzo told aldermen prior to her presentation. "St. Charles has a beautiful, rich history. And to be able to turn the museum into not just a place of stuff, but a place where people can experience history – St. Charles' history – has been one of my biggest accomplishments."
In turn, 5th Ward Alderman Maureen Lewis, chairman of the City Council's Government Operations Committee, thanked Costanzo for her dedicated service to the city.
St. Charles History Museum Board President Mike Corbett told aldermen that Costanzo "brought the museum into the 21st century." A search is underway for her replacement. So far, seven people have applied for the post.
The museum is requesting $50,000 in city funding this year, up from the $44,000 request approved by the City Council last year. The funds are derived from the hotel motel tax revenue stream.
The proposed increase in funding would allow the museum to fund the full-time director position, maintain its current events, programs, and outreach efforts as well as care for its archives and collections.
Costanzo took note of the museum's accomplishments in the last year, including the completion of its strategic plan, developing new programs, strengthening and developing new community partnerships, curating three temporary exhibits and expanding the stock in the museum's Curious Fox Gift Shop.
The St. Charles History Museum did see a 31 percent drop in visitor attendance last year, which she attributed to poor weather conditions during three major community events.
"During Holiday Homecoming, we typically serve about 1,500 visitors," she said. "We had 225. Weather impacts our numbers, but visitor donations were up 7.5%"
The museum looks to boost its revenues, from $155,379.10 last year to $182,990 this year. At the same time, the museum's expenses are set to also increase, from last year's expenses of $180,881.86 to $182,990 this year.
Lewis said the committee will discuss the funding request further at another meeting.