budget cuts to reduce use
of Lanier Mansion in Candlelight Tour
MADISON, Ind. (July 2003) A 5 percent cut ordered
in the operational and capital budgets of all state agencies will not
shut down visitation at the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site, but
it could impact future availability of the mansion during the annual
Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes.
The Mansion is an annual participant in the popular holiday event, which
features indoor tours of private homes and public historic sites, including
one property owned by the Historic Madison Inc. Lanier Mansion will
take part in both weekends again this year on Nov. 28-30 and Dec. 5-7.
But the budget cuts could mean the mansion would only be open for one
of the two tour weekends in 2004.
If that happens, Lanier would probably take part in only the December
weekend, Link Ludington, curator of the state-owned Lanier Mansion,
told the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau board during its
June 11 meeting. Theres just no way we can afford to staff
it with the magnitude of these cuts.
That has county tourism officials scrambling to come up with a plan
to replace the mansion during its first weekend, which usually is around
the Thanksgiving holiday.
Ludington, Lanier Mansion curator
The Nights committee has been discussing this and
will try to find another site to fill in the first weekend, said
tourism director Linda Lytle. She added that attendance has varied over
the years between the two weekends, with no one weekend predominately
busier than the other.
Committee members have debated the notion of reducing the event to one
weekend but no decision has been made to do that, Lytle said. If
we had to vote, we would vote for one weekend because (committee chairperson
and tourism staff member) Christy (Burnett) struggles to get houses
on that first weekend because its Thanksgiving weekend.
However, Lytle noted that there are more historic homes renovated and
available for touring than when the event first started. She added that
the six days requires many volunteers working many long hours.
I dont think we should make that decision (to reduce it
to one weekend), said CVB board president Bob Wolfschlag. Let
the committee decide.
Lytle said the committee is still discussing the issue with the priority
of keeping it a quality event. The committee tried to avoid
featuring the same homes as the Tri-Kappa Tour of Homes, held biannually
in October. The committee also tries to avoid featuring the same homes
from year to year.
Ludington said a bill in the state legislature to require an admission
for all state historic sites died in committee this past session. A
minimum donation policy is still in place at the mansion, although not
State Historic Site
The Lanier staffs moving expenses into new offices
with the tourism office at 601 W. First St. in all likelihood
will require private money, Ludington said. The state budget cuts
threatened to close some of the 14 historic sites or curtail their operations.
The cuts amounted to $123,000 of this years $2.4 million operating
budget for the sites.
The states historic sites employ about 40 full-time workers and
40 seasonal employees, according to Indiana Department of Natural Resources
With regard to the Candlelight tour, Lytle said, Well be
all right for now, and then well decide what well do in
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