Douglas M McGeary,
Southern Oregon Historical Society 541-779-4647
The Board of Southern Oregon Historical Society, a 70 year-old Oregon institution, is forced to reorganize its operations after the disappointing defeat of the Heritage District Measure 15-164. In a letter to SOHS members, Doug McGeary, SOHS President, states that "while partners of the Jackson County Heritage Association have promised to struggle on without the steady source of funding a Heritage District would have guaranteed, Southern Oregon Historical Society (SOHS) is in a different situation."
The SOHS Board has made its most critical decision in laying off the organization's staff as of December 31, 2016. McGeary states, "This is a very hard decision as we are so proud of how our staff has endured these past several hard years. They have been so professional, understanding and positive. They have continued to provide high-quality service and support to our community, and they stepped up in so many ways.We owe them a debt of gratitude; we wish them well."
The SOHS Board avoided any discussions during the recent campaign of such possibilities should the measure fail because it did not want to speculate about something it had not decided and the likelihood the voters would reject them as threats, thereby negatively affecting the campaign.
The reality, however, is that SOHS, given the size, quality and value of its collection and the programming it developed during the years between 1946 and early 2,000s when it benefitted from public funding, is no longer financially viable as now funded by memberships and marginal rents and farming operations.Therefore, the Society must reorganize and forge a new path into the future.
The SOHS Board will continue its efforts to preserve, stabilize, and grow SOHS. Without a steady source of funding, the SOHS is seeking new and different methods that transition the organization into something that is actually self-sustaining.
SOHS cannot provide certain operational answers right now but the Board will continue to assess what services SOHS can provide in the short term, such as Hanley Farm operations and volunteer staffing of the library.And the Board will continue with reviewing its options for the long term as issues relate to its remaining facilities, protecting its collections, and partnering with volunteers and other organizations.
The Board is seeking comments and thoughts from its members as it continues to make hard choices in its effort to preserve a lasting future for Southern Oregon Historical Society.
The Board will pursue a process that will keep its members informed and that seeks member participation.
McGeary states that it is "through clear communication, bold imagination, and working together we can come up with a new and different Southern Oregon Historical Society that fulfils its true mission to make history come alive and share our common heritage."