The board of the American Independence Museum said it's doing everything it can to continue the town's popular American Independence Festival after recently laying off all the museum's staff in a dramatic cost-cutting measure.
The festival, which features historical re-enactments – including a battle – has been held every July in downtown Exeter for the last 20 years. It draws thousands of visitors each year.
The board is trying to secure sponsors to continue the festival – and the museum itself.
"The festival is a hallmark of Exeter," said Eric MacDonald, the board's vice president. "We want to do everything we can to hold it again."
The museum is a non-profit. MacDonald said it was on track to run out of money by the end of year because of a lack of money from sponsors. So the board decided to cut the museum's largest expense – the salaries of all four staff members.
MacDonald said it was a hard decision, but one that was necessary to keep the museum afloat.
The board also canceled the museum's fall progams. It arranged for a local property manager to oversee the museum grounds while it reorganizes.
The museum includes the historic Ladd-Gilman House and Folsom Tavern downtown. The museum was started in 1991 after an original copy of the Declaration of Independence was discovered in the Ladd-Gilman House.
MacDonald said the board is looking for volunteers and sponsors as it reorganizes. Those interested can contact MacDonald at 603-770-9538 or firstname.lastname@example.org.