A local business has been honored for its contribution to the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, lauding it for helping keep the museum viable in the face of a declining economy.
Museum Director Matt Edwards said SouthData, Inc. was recently selected to receive an Award of Special Recognition for its years of support for the museum.
The company was honored last week during the annual conference celebrating the 50th anniversary of the North Carolina Museums Council, a statewide organization for museum professionals.
“This is a way to recognize people who are doing great work for museums across the state,” Edwards said. “They are designed to honor them for making a lasting impact on the museum community in this area.”
Edwards said it was difficult narrowing down who to recognize due to the incredible support the local museum receives.
“We’re fortunate here that we have a long list of people who support us,” he said. “But SouthData has been particularly supportive of us over the past five years.”
The local museum is winding up a five-year, $100,000 donation to the museum, a contribution Edwards said was critical to its survival.
“It really helped us to weather this financial storm we’re in due to the economic downturn,” he said Friday. “But beyond the sheer financial aspect are the kind of behind-the-scenes things they’ve helped us with that people may not know about.”
Edwards said that includes working closely with the company on re-branding the museum and helping to produce the vast majority of posters and event tickets that are vital to programming.
“That would cost us a pile of money if we didn’t have the support of SouthData,” he said. “They’ve been instrumental in helping us create the graphic identity that has become recognizable in the community.”
The company was nominated for the award by Edwards.
“I nominated them because the intent of this award is to recognize people who make a lasting impact on the community, and that’s exactly what they’ve done,” he said. “When I came here in 2009, we were in a pit of economic decline, and their contribution helped us turn that around and put the museum back on firm financial footing, allowing us to move forward as a strong, healthy community institution.”
Edwards said he wished he could have recognized all the museum’s supporters.
“There are others out there who could have just as easily been recognized with this award,” he said.
John Springthorpe, president of SouthData, said that he would be supporting the museum regardless of any potential recognition.
“We support the museum because we believe it is important for the community to have a place that tells who we are and how we got here,” he said. “It would be a shame if our children grew up not knowing about the hard work, dedication and perseverance it took to build even a small community like Mount Airy.
“It may be difficult for some to believe, but life in this area was vibrant and exciting before Facebook and the Internet,” Springthorpe added.
He said he was genuinely surprised with the recognition.
“My mother was part of the early efforts to establish the museum in Mount Airy,” he said. “I was simply following her lead.”
Springthorpe, who has served several times on the Board of Directors of the museum, said it is a “special part of our community.”
“Most people don’t recognize the high quality of the facility and its exhibits,” he said. “They have hosted award-winning exhibits, including traveling exhibits from the prestigious Smithsonian Institute.
“I encourage everyone to visit.”
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or at 719-1929.