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Lack of visitors crunches non-profits

Seeking donations to take up the slack
Posted at 5:36 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 20:36:35-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - The coronavirus shutdown is squeezing some of Tucson’s best-loved attractions. Non-profit organizations that depend on ticket sales are working hard to raise funds and keep their facilities ready for when visitors can come in again.

The Tucson Botanical Gardens are meant to be a peaceful place but now the director is posting videos of an attraction that’s more than peaceful---it’s empty. The COVID shutdown has shut out visitors and events that keep the gardens growing.

Michelle Conklin says, “And the minute we closed everything stopped--- admissions, thirty-two weddings and events canceled, the fundraisers canceled, the classes canceled. So it was really pretty devastating.”

She says losing visitors in the normally busy tourism months is costing about 400 thousand dollars. Conklin says they’re working to boost donations while they work to preserve the grounds and rare plants they have no way to replace.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has plants and animals to care for and no ticket income to help cover the costs. Like other non-profits in a similar bind, the Desert Museum is asking already generous donors to be even more generous.

Brian Denham, the Museuem’’s Director of Engagement says, “But it still leaves a very large gap for us--- millions. And so we're just working diligently everyday right now to try to get through the other side of this as a healthy organization.

All of these organizations have resources on-line so visitors can appreciate on screen what they can’t see in person.

Tucson Botanical Gardens lets you watch its’ butterfly exhibit live.

The Desert Museum offers a variety of presentations on-line and the Children’s Museum features Facebook content at its’ Tucson and Oro Valley locations.

The Children’s Museum is hosting a virtual Earth Day event next Wednesday while it copes with the loss of ticket sales that covered about half of its budget.

Marketing Director Teresa Truelsen says the Children’s Museum has been able to use the time without visitors to use money earmarked before the virus hit to create new attractions for when the museum re-opens.

So in that sense, and when we reopen, there's going to be some new things in the museum that weren't there before, because we've had that opportunity to work.”

Despite the squeeze on their budgets, none of the non-profits say they fear for their survival.

Michelle Conklin at the Botanical Gardens says she believes people support the things they love.