Funding is Tight for ASU Museums/Educational Centers

PIGGOTT (KAIT) To have and have not.

These days it's not just banks and companies needing economic help.

One historic landmark in Region Eight could learn "for whom the bell tolls" if it doesn't get enough money.

Lot of people don't even know that Earnest Hemingway even had any ties to Arkansas.

His in laws owned a house and land in Piggott.

Dr. Ruth Hawkins the director of ASU Heritage sites says they met in Paris, "Hemingway was married to Pauline Pfeiffer for about 13 years. She was the mother of two of his three children. They came to Piggott a couple of times a year and so the Pfeiffers converted a barn into a studio to give him privacy to write."

It was in this room in the barn where Hemingway worked on short stories and novels but he never actually finished anything while he was visiting Piggott.

The museum is one of three heritage sites ASU maintains. The two others are located in Tyronza and Lake City. Each also functions as an education center.

And it costs a good chunk of change to operate these sites.

Hawkins, "Now it costs about 450 thousand dollars a year to operate the  museum as well as the Lakeport plantation."

The Tyronza site is smaller and costs about a 100 thousand yearly to operate.

For the past 10 years the money from the state has trickled in two year cycles but this years funding is still uncertain.

Hawkins, "That's been our concern that money is tight everywhere and we just hope that the museum doesn't wind up suffering as a result."

Hemingway Pfeiffer brings about 5000 plus visitors to the Piggott area every year. Those visitors spend money in the local area.

Dr. Hawkins says she is pretty confident of getting some money this year.

"Hopefully we will be able to again piece together funding that will keep the operations on going that we have at these sites."

Doctor Hawkins says they have been trying to become a permanent line item in the budget.

But she does not think that will happen this year.