After almost a year of fighting an uphill battle when it came to funding, The Treasury Research Centre and Archive have made the “tough but responsible” decision to go into hibernation.
It’s a “tragic” situation not just for the popular facility which preserves Thames Valley heritage, but for other not-for-profit organisations around the country which serve at “survival level”, chairperson Jan Wright told The Profile.
“This public funding crisis will be affecting not-for-profit operations everywhere across the country,” she said.
“Food banks, blankets, and essential medicines – that is where a lot of the public funding is going right now, and that is where it needs to go.”
The Treasury, operated by The Coromandel Heritage Trust and housed in the historic Carnegie Library in Thames, has faced unprecedented challenges in the recent charitable funding climate.
Despite successful fundraising efforts, including a ‘keep the doors open’ campaign that raised $25,000, the organisation still struggled to cover its basic annual operating costs.
The first signs of trouble began back in March this year, Jan said, when the Treasury’s Lottery Community grant application was “totally declined”.
A few days later, The Treasury’s Trust Waikato grant application was also denied.
Despite being “deeply stressed”, the trust continued to pursue funding solutions and were granted $21,000 in total from the coffers of Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki district councils.
However, The Treasury was recently denied another grant application – this time from Lottery Environment and Heritage, which had granted them funds on three other occasions.
According to the government’s websites for both the Lottery Community Committee and Lottery Environment and Heritage Committee, for the 2023-24 financial year, both committees had 46 per cent less funding available compared with the previous year. This meant they would not be able to fund as many requests as 2022-23 and were unlikely to make grants to the same levels they had previously.
The recent funding denial meant The Treasury’s next steps were pretty clear, Jan said.
“This pause is necessary to ensure the long-term preservation of the invaluable collections we hold. It is our role as guardians of the irreplaceable records held within the research centre and archive to focus first on keeping those collections safe.”
The Coromandel Heritage Trust will continue to actively pursue sustainable funding solutions, including considering the transfer of management and upkeep of The Treasury’s archive.
“We are committed to exploring all options to secure the necessary funding to resume our services [and] to keep the collections readily accessible to the public. Most importantly, to keep the collections here in the rohe [area] where they belong, but we are unlikely to know whether we’ll be in a position to reopen until June, 2024.”
The $21,000 in emergency funding provided by the two district councils was not enough to “buy any continuity of business”, Jan said, however, it allowed the trust to fund “critical” actions, such as engage an HR professional to work through the end of staffing contracts, pay for legal fees, and conduct a business case.
“None of it is business as usual,” she said. “Business is not going to look the same as it has in the past.”
However, Jan is optimistic about finding a resolution that will allow The Treasury to continue its mission of conserving and sharing the region’s rich documentary heritage.
“We are deeply committed to our community and to heritage. We will do all within our power for
this only to be a pause in our operations.”
All public services and most volunteer activities at The Treasury will be suspended from the close of business on December 1. The physical research centre and archive will be closed to the public, schools and researchers, while the website and online bookstore will remain operational.
BY KELLEY TANTAU