Update– On Tuesday, July 10, the Shreveport City Council voted unanimously to enter into a new Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with Red River STEM to take over Sci-Port Discovery Center. Red River STEM will manage both day-to-day business and lead all future plans. The Community Foundation says a new executive director will be announced soon and a new board of directors is being assembled now.
Sci-Port Discovery Center has been given a new lease on life courtesy the Community Foundation of North Louisiana, other community agencies and generous individuals who were unwilling to allow the facility to die.
At a Wednesday, June 20 press conference, it was announced that a new non-profit organization called Red River STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) will run the Sci-Port Building. There will be a new board and J.E. Pierson, an attorney, non-practicing CPA and former head of Region Bank’s Wealth Management Group, has agreed to be the board chairman. According to Community Foundation executive director Kristi Gustavson, the first goal of Red River STEM will be to hire a new executive director. All of this is contingent upon the Shreveport City Council approving a new Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the group at their July 10 council meeting.
The current Sci-Port Board of Directors closed the doors in 2017 after discovering a number of serious financial issues. In March 2018 the board, utilizing a small paid staff, re-opened a portion of the Discovery Center – the Power of Play Museum intended for children 8 and under and the IMAX Theater-Thursday through Sunday of each week. Their goal was to reopen the facility incrementally, but it became apparent as the board worked through the liabilities of the entity that it could not be sustained in its current form, says the Community Foundation’s Gustavson. Gustavson says the idea of creating a new entity to take the facility made the best sense to keep the physical presence and mission of Sci-Port viable.
As Red River STEM works to get its tax status, the Community Foundation will act as the fiscal agent, and according to Gustavson, will continue to ‘mentor and oversee’ Red River STEM. The Community Foundation will also set up a fund for Sci-Port so that persons wishing to give money will be able to.
In the interim until the City Council can approve an agreement with Red River STEM, the Power and Play and IMAX will remain open, operating under the old Sci-Port Board.
Good news, and a wonderful new lease on life for an important partner in downtown Shreveport.