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Walker's budget proposal may negatively impact Circus World

Published On: Mar 01 2013 09:36:41 PM CST

Gov. Scott Walker’s new budget may have unusual ripple effects on the Circus World Museum.

In his budget, Walker targeted the Sauk County attraction by ending a decades-long public-private partnership between the state and the Circus World Board of Directors.

The proposal would turn Circus World entirely over to the State Historical Society and allocated $1.2 million to pay the attraction’s 10 employees.

Circus World Executive Director Steve Freese said the move will detract some donors, ultimately setting off a chain reaction of lower attendance numbers and show cancellations.

“It really puts everything that our board has put together here in jeopardy,” Freese said. “It risks, we think, the collection because of the approach that we’re using to do that. Their track record hasn’t been good with attendance at historic sites.”
Freese said he and the board have worked hard to boost attendance nearly 40 percent since 2006.

Walker’s plan must be approved by both the Assembly and the Senate. Freese said some important donors have already pulled out in anticipation of the state takeover, a move he added may affect the upcoming summer season’s programs.

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