City proposes resolution to correct American Jazz Museum’s ‘mistakes and missteps’

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A consulting group’s strong words about the American Jazz Museum prompted the city to look at resolutions to that would give the museum time to respond to more than two dozen recommendations.

Wednesday, Kansas City's Finance and Governance Committee will discuss two resolutions regarding the museum and its plans to handle recommendations.

"I will say there were mistakes and missteps that we’ve made," Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner, Executive Director of the American Jazz Museum said. "We’ve made corrections to those missteps."

A priority recommendation from the group was to shut down the museum for a year while they make changes to fix financial, decision-making, modernization and leadership issues. The resolutions would allow the museum to fix its shortcomings while staying open.

Normally, Kansas City gives the American Jazz Museum a half million dollars a year. But the number will go up to about $730,000 to help the museum pay its deficits and obligations.

If Resolution 180303 makes it through the city council, about $30,000 of that of that will be spent now and the rest will be put on hold.

"If we are going to relieve all those debts and those obligations, we need to have confidence in the leadership moving forward," Kansas City Councilman Scott Wagner said. "And I think that’s what we’re looking at and hoping for."

The report says there are problems with the museum’s leadership, and recommends refreshing the staff and board.

It says the museum chartered an $18,000 plane to fly in a guest of honor for an event, and lost $447,000 on last year’s Jazz Fest. Help from the city for the museum’s $1 million deficit is a concern for Councilman Wagner.

"There is always a question when we have to spend more money, whether that is good spending of our money," Wagner said.

The AJM’s executive director said their biggest takeaway about the recommendations is updating the museum’s exhibits. Along with steps they've already taken, they will submit a plan to the city about the 26 recommendations soon.

"When departments get audits, there’s a document that they use to respond," Kositany-Buckner said.  "We’re using that document to respond to those recommendations."

Councilman Jermaine Reed is on the board of the AJM, and introduced a separate resolution that would extend the city’s contract with the AJM for two months, and allow their response to the recommendations to be monitored over time.

"I think if we have just two more months or even shorter, we will have an opportunity to move forward in a direction that is not only in the best interest of KCMO, but a non-profit called the AJM," Jermaine Reed said.

The resolutions are set to go to committee Wednesday. They could go before the KC city council as early as Thursday.

A former employee reached out to FOX4, claiming the museum’s money management is poor. After they contacted us, that person said they received a letter ordering them not to talk about the museum’s business dealings.

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