Sunday, February 29, 2004

Freedom Center's funding to come from many sources

To the Editor: In response to Peter Bronson's column "Center opens, visits fall off, who will pay?"(Feb. 22), it is important that he and others understand what we are creating at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

We are building a national institution that is not a traditional museum, but a unique learning center that reveals stories about freedom heroes from our past and present, challenging and inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom today. The Freedom Center will be a safe house for dialogue and a beacon of freedom for all people.

From the project's inception in 1994, we have taken a businesslike approach. We employed the leading experts to benchmark other like "institutions of conscience" such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and the Tenement Museum in New York. We developed sound economic models with conservative assumptions in regard to our attendance and sources of revenue. Our board of directors and staff are determined to run the Freedom Center using the best practices.

Beginning in August, visitors to the Freedom Center will experience a hubbub of activity and discussions that warmly welcome all citizens to learn about their history and heroes. We will be a knowledge leader on subjects such as modern-day slavery around the world, family history and the use of dialogue to bring people of disparate backgrounds together to advance the cause of freedom today.

The Freedom Center will draw importantly from national funding sources, private and public, because we will be viewed as one of the most important national institutions on one of the most important subjects in the United States - freedom.

Cincinnati will be very proud of the Freedom Center because it will attract visitation and attention nationally and from around the world. We thank the community for supporting this beacon of freedom on the Ohio River.

Spencer Crew, Executive director; Nathaniel Jones, Co-chairman of the board of directors, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

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