THE VOTE: Georgia Music Hall of Fame Closing June 12 | News
Macon's financially-troubled Georgia Music Hall of Fame museum will close June 12, the Music Hall of Fame Authority decided Tuesday.
The state board that oversees the museum rejected a proposal to let NewTown Macon run the museum for one year with $800,000 from private donors.
They rejected NewTown's proposal by a 4-3 vote.
Museum officials said earlier this month that they were low on funds and might not make it to June 30, when state funding runs out.
The number of visitors -- and admissions revenue -- has been dropping in recent years.
NewTown president Mike Ford said he thought some board members had their minds set against keeping the state museum in Macon despite the commitment of a year's funding.
Ford said "it's a little hard to understand what we could have done to convince them to keep the Hall of Fame open."
Macon-area board members Rose Leavell and Lynda Gudenrath were among those who favored the NewTown proposal. William Turner of Columbus also voted for it.
"It's a sad moment for the Middle Georgia community," Ford said. "It's hard to understand how the authority can feel like it is representing its music heritage in the state by closing the museum."
Board vice-chairman Rob Gibson was the most-outspoken for closing the museum.
"This thing is not a tourist destination," Gibson said. "It's not ever been. It has no real artistic, aesthetic vision and conception behind it other than its name."
Now, the museum will prepare to turn its collection of Georgia music artifacts and memorabilia over to the University of Georgia.
Speaking live on Eyewitness News at 5, museum executive director Lisa Love said she hoped some items from the collection can be placed elsewhere in Macon, including the Big House museum.
Former Mayor Tommy Olmstead, interviewed on Eyewitness News at 5, said "it was a sad thing" and credited the Hall of Fame with helping revitalize downtown Macon.
Before then, he said, "nothing was happening down here in this area. It was blight."
In March, the board voted to reject proposals from Macon, Dunwoody, Athens and Woodstock to host the museum permanently, but it approved a plan to keep the hall in Macon for one year if the museum could get financial help from the Macon community.
However, city and county leaders would not pledge help for anything short of a commitment to keep the Hall in Macon for three years.
The Music Hall of Fame museum opened in Macon on Sept. 21, 1996 at a cost of ten million dollars. The state of Georgia contributed $6.5 million; the rest was raised through contributions.
At an opening reception, then-Gov. Zell Miller said: "I think it's a dream come true, and isn't it a beautiful one?"
Mayor Jim Marshall told 13WMAZ at that reception: "I think this is a tremendous asset for Macon."