Friday, April 16, 2010
Swedish Emigrant Institute ist empoyees are given notice
All staff at the Emigrant Institute in Växjö, which has been on notice and the property is being sold, writes Smålandsposten. (the local newspaper)
The Institute's financial crisis is a result of loss of funds and disagreements with the former co-financiers the Municipality of Växjö and Kronoberg County Council.
The Board is opposed to their proposal that the Institute will be part of the same organization as the Småland Museum and Archives Kronoberg. It is feared that it would damage the institution's status to be included in such a local context.
Here is a rough translation fo the article in Smålandsposten
The staff at the Emigrant Institute has its notification of termination and the whole property in The Museum Park is being offered for sale .The reason is that the board of the Emigrant Institute and the board of the The Culture Park has failed to reach an agrement about a merger.
- I never thought it would go so far. We all agree that this is regrettable and serious, "said Lars Hansson, director of The Emigrant Institute.
Altogether, it is about a dozen employees. The decision to give notice of termination to those is taken by the Emigrant Institutes Board. None of the staff Smålandsposten was in contact with yesterday wanted to make any comments.
- We do not know what this will mean, says one of them.
Although the property, with the House of Emigrants,the exhibition hall and office space and land in The Museum Park will be up for sale,according to the Board of the Emigrant Institutes's decision.
The property was recently valued at around 14 million Swedish kronor by the Valuation Office in Växjö.
- We have to take responsibility for the economic situation. Here is a mortage on the property also. It must be resolved in any way, "said Lars Hansson.
The background to the notices and the possible sale of the real estate is the Emigrant Institute's board of directors and the The Culture Park, which is owned by the municipality of Växjö and Kronoberg County Council, has been unable to agree on a solution for a merger.
The reason is that the Emigrant Institute did not buy the politicians' approach to transfer the Emigrant Institute's staff and activities to The Culture Company with the Småland Museum (the county museum)and The Kronoberg Archives. It would risk Emigrant Institute's national and international status in the scientific community to the risk of such a local context, the Board (of the Emigrant Institute )believes.
- Our policy has been that the Emigrant Institute will maintain its core business, archives and research, and that we share the public areas with the Culture Park. But it has not been possible to reach an agreement on this, "said Lars Hansson.
Chairman of the Board, history professor Harold Round Flowers says:
- The Culture Park will get a larger organization and momentum and we will guarantee what we will do that foundation. There is actually a collision of interests .
The Institute's economy has been strangled by withdraval of economic support from the local government of Växjö and the Kronoberg County Council this money is now given now to The Culture Park. Altogether, it is about a couple million a year. The money will not be at the Institute until there is a settlement.
The Culture Park s director , Erica Månsson, believes that the offer is generous and that includes opportunities for the Emigrant Institute s goals , such as in research.
- My opinion is that we have given a very good offer which we took into account the Foundation's various comments. We are appalled by the staff situation. It is unfortunate, "she says.
Today sit representatives of the Emigrant Institute and Cultural Park in the new negotiations. Both sides say they hope for a solution, even if the lengthy discussions have not led to the conclusion that they failed to agree.
- I have high hopes, "said Culture Park chairman Peter Norrman.
there were several comments on the article in the newspaper some taking the side of the Swedish emigrant Institute and some the side of The culture Park among the comments were this from Bo Frank (the mayor of Växjö)
All the politicans in the municipality and county council is behind The culture Park and the offer toThe Emigrant institute to be developed as part of The Culture Park. If theSwedish emigrant Institute would rather close down its operations it may do so !
My personal comment on this is that it will surely be a sad Day if the Swedish Emigrant Institute is forced out of its building and forced to leave Växjö. For years it has drawn tourists from USA, Canada and other countries to Växjö. People has been able to look at the exibitions and in the research department they also have been able to do research on their familiys origin in sweden and swedes has also been able to do research on their relatives fates in USA and Canada . The Emigrant Institutes archive and library conatins a unique collection of books ,swedish-american newspapers microfilmed swedish-american church records and also unique interwiews with old emigrants and a unique collection of pictures. This unity of library, research department ,archive and exibitions is now risking to be lost as well as the competence that goes with the employees.
I am aware that times have changed and that the Emigrant Institutes way of working has to change too.
as well as to the fact that The Institute has economical problems.
The bottom line is perhaps that the Swedish Emigrant Institute is a national institution anf that the Smålands Museum and the Kronoberg Archive are local Institutions and that their Interest may collide.
As a national Institution the Institute should have recevied some state support but that has never been given. Instead it has been dependent on economical support from the Municipality of Växjö and The county Council. The Municipality of Växjö and especially Bo Frank have pressed hard for a merger with the Smålands Museum and the Kronoberg Arhive to cut costs and to put pressure on The Emigrant Institute they have more or less slowly strangled them by cutting the economic support and forcing them to more or less close the research deparment to visitors (they are still answering research questions by e-mail).
it is sad that there have been no agrement.
I have spend much of my time at the Swedish emigrant institute since the late eighties that time may soon be gone.