The museum, the school, arts & historic preservation, and economic development

We just celebrated Independence Day, commemorating our Declaration of Independence and the revolution through which our great nation was born.

Many people don’t associate South Carolina with the Revolutionary War.   But SC–and in particular Upstate SC–played an important role in the war for independence.  That’s one of the reasons why we have the volunteer-run and supported Simpsonville Museum of Revolutionary History–to preserve our place in that history.  I think it’s great that we have citizens who are proud of that history and dedicated to preserving it, and I think we should do more to support such endeavors.  It’s part of why I argued in support of allowing the museum to remain in its current location at the historical Simpsonville Elementary School (an otherwise unused building with no concrete plans for it usage).  What follows is the letter (written May 19, 2015) that I submitted to council members on the topic of the museum and its place at the school building:

I am writing today in regards to the Simpsonville Revolutionary War Museum.  Recently, you voted against sending the discussion about its location in the elementary school back to committee.  The result is that now the Museum is being forced to move because the city is requiring $650/month in rent.  
I think this is a mistake.  Here’s why: the arts and historic preservation are important in their own right. We’ve discussed this previously in relation to the elementary school, so I won’t go back over that.  But one might also consider that a small, local museum has several other potential benefits. The museum could actually be a revenue generating source. “The historic city of Simpsonville” with its historic attractions (like a museum housed in a historical location) could draw in visitors–visitors who spend money in the city–visitors who tell their friends–visitors who have the chance to see what a great place Simpsonville is not just to visit but also to live. This would, of course, require us to invest in the museum, which would not necessarily mean spending money–but could just be through donated space, such as a few school rooms dedicated to non-profits.
 Further, small, local museums help to foster a sense of community pride: this is our history–of our place–of our people (transplants though some of us may be), and it’s a history that is rich, unique, and interesting. The more pride people have in their community, the more they participate and get involved in it, and the more they personally invest in it. It also provides a place for members of the community to get together, to get to know one another, to share, to be involved. This is always good for the community, especially when the events sponsored by the museum are located in the heart of our city (which increases traffic to our local merchants as an additional benefit). Obviously, given that the museum is a volunteer effort (much like the farmer’s market),the citizens of Simpsonville want it–and other opportunities for community participation and involvement like it. Thus, there are a number of good reasons to commit to encouraging and supporting the museum, so it really is a shame to see us choose not to do so. In fact, I think it’s a mistake–one our council should reconsider seriously.
Thanks for your time.
The museum, the school, arts & historic preservation, and economic development: they can all work hand in hand.  And they should.  For the betterment of the city as a whole. For One Simpsonville.