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Calgary - Employees of the Glenbow Museum have serious concerns about the future of Alberta’s heritage and are taking matters into their own hands. Donning period costumes including suits of armour, museum employees took to the street today with a little street theatre to highlight the impact of years of funding cutbacks at the Glenbow.

Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1645 representing approximately 140 museum staff including curators, designers, librarians, archivists, public and school programmers, security, marketing and communications and administrative support employees, are using the event to launch the Alberta Heritage Campaign.

“There is legislation in this province that requires the provincial government support the Glenbow Museum which is entrusted through the same legislation to care for Alberta’s heritage collections,” says CUPE Local 1645 President Karin Richardson. “Professional museum staff ensure that our unique heritage remains vibrant and continues to be a rich legacy for the future,” she said.

Since 1991, diminished government support has forced the museum to impose a series of position cuts in order to balance its budget, resulting in reduced public programs and museum hours. Richardson says the union is launching the campaign to address two key issues. The first is reduced public access to the museum and the second is the serious loss of museum resources through staffing cuts.

“Today there are user fees for curatorial research, reduced programming and public hours, and higher admissions to the museum. We believe Alberta’s heritage belongs to everyone and the government has a responsibility to ensure that is so,” said Richardson.

CUPE 1645 members are asking everyone to get involved by writing letters to the provincial government. By using their website (www.cupe1645.org), distribution of a postcard to Premier Ralph Klein and by putting up posters around town, the union is determined to spread the word on the importance of museum services to the community. Already they have received support from a number of academic, parent and community groups who are going to help with the distribution of campaign material.

“So much of our knowledge base is unwritten,” said Richardson. “The loss of 51 key positions over the last ten years is wearing away at our ability to pass on Alberta’s cultural legacy. Today we are taking action to prevent any further erosion,” she said.

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CUPE is Canada’s largest union with over half a million women and men who provide public services. In Alberta, CUPE’s 31,000 members work in health care, municipalities, schools, colleges, universities, museums, libraries, emergency medical services, social services and casinos. Visit our CUPE websites for more information www.cupe.ca and cupealberta.ab.ca

For further information:
Pam Beattie CUPE Communications
(780) 484-7644 or (780) 288-1230 (cellular)