Science World aiming to raise $10 million for upgraded exhibits

Jun 15 2021, 11:24 am

Science World has set a target goal of raising $10 million to help fund exhibit upgrades and expand its STEAM learning initiatives.

The not-for-profit organization announced the launch of the fundraising campaign today amidst its ongoing revenue losses from a substantial drop in attendance during the pandemic.

The attraction lost about $13 million in revenue last year; 85% of its revenue typically comes from admissions and events, and only 2% of its budget is covered by the government.

According to the organization’s latest annual report for the fiscal year ending in February 2021, admission and membership revenue fell to $2.2 million from $10.9 million in the previous fiscal year.

Attendance at the dome fell from nearly one million visitors in the 2019-2020 fiscal year to just 144,500 in 2020-2021.

Overall, revenues were down to $5.3 million in 2020-21 from $18 million in 2019-2020. But Science World stayed afloat with the help of $3.2 million from the federal government’s COVID-19 wage subsidy, which increased total revenues for the last fiscal year to $8.6 million. The attraction ended 2020-2021 with a $2.7 million deficit after cutting its operating costs to $10.2 million — down from $17.4 million in operating costs during its last pre-pandemic fiscal year.

However, proceeds from the campaign would not go towards filling the budget shortfall, but rather new initiatives.

Science World is aiming to direct $5 million of the fundraising goal towards immersive experiences, exhibit renewal, and capital projects. This includes $3.5 million for new technology and content that will provide an improved experience, new revenue opportunities, and new markets, and $1.5 million for a new digital studio and platform, upgrades to current galleries, a new greenhouse, and vital maintenance work.

Another $5 million would be directed towards the acceleration of the digitization of its programs, exhibits, and STEAM content to reach the homes and classrooms of students.

STEAM is short for science, technology, engineering, arts and design, and math. The organization says there is a need for a STEAM focus in education, citing research that estimates that two-thirds of students entering elementary school today will be employed in jobs that do not currently exist. Of those new jobs, about 80% will require a foundation in STEAM.

“It’s up to all of us to ensure that BC, and Canada, are able to compete on a global scale in the quest for talent. Currently, we are facing skills shortages in essential fields so we need to equip our youth with the right tools to succeed in the future,” said Tracy Redies, president and CEO of Science World, in a statement.

Science World is uniquely positioned to support the learners of today so they’re ready for the challenges of tomorrow. This important fundraising campaign will help us succeed in doing just this.”

The organization told Daily Hive they have applied for the provincial government’s grant program that provides up to $1 million in COVID-19 emergency operating funding for major attractions in urban areas. Science World has requested the full eligible amount, which they believe they are eligible to receive. The provincial government is in the process of reviewing applications, and is expected to provide successful applicants with the funding by next month.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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