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Published: Thursday, 1/9/2003

Toledo Botanical Garden cuts expenses

The Toledo Botanical Garden is pruning its programs in an effort to trim costs during a slow economy.

The garden will reduce its off-season hours and eliminate the Caf Concert series this year, Dr. Michelle Grigore, the garden’s executive director, said.

“It’s going to be a tight budget,” she said. “We don’t think the economy is going to turn around very soon. We’re trying to be prudent.”

The garden could not find enough businesses to sponsor its free lunchtime concert series for this summer. Dr. Grigore said she hopes the garden will be able to hold the concerts again next year.

The garden will be open an hour less from October through March in order to reduce the amount of money it pays staff. It will open 30 minutes later - at 8:30 a.m. - and close 30 minutes earlier - at 5:30 p.m.

“I don’t think the public will notice that a great deal,” Dr. Grigore said. “We don’t get a lot of early morning walkers.”

The garden also eliminated a few staff positions and will offer only one type of summer camp this year.

The botanical garden, which is owned by the city of Toledo, has an annual budget of $1.2 million. Independent officials run the garden as a nonprofit operation.

The garden board is responsible for raising $1 million annually through special events, donations, and grants.

Dr. Grigore said the garden probably raised enough to cover expenses for last year, but just barely. The garden has raised about $970,000 so far, and staff members are still counting year-end donations.

Grants and private donations were down this year because of the sluggish economy and special events had low attendance, Dr. Grigore said.

Proceeds from events like the Crosby Festival of the Arts and Storybook Garden make up about 25 percent of the money the garden raises annually.

Temperatures climbed into the low 90s in the last weekend of June, keeping visitors away from the hundreds of art exhibits at the Crosby Festival. Rain deterred about 2,000 of the 6,000 people expected to attend the Storybook Garden event in mid-September.

The one bright spot in the year was the year-end appeal for donations, which has raised about $20,000 so far, Dr. Grigore said. The campaign has already been the most successful in the garden’s history.

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