Spradlin: Latest move makes DPK a community museum

Discovery Place KIDS in Rockingham has been a great idea long before it ever opened and certainly long before I ever moved to Richmond County.

As a consumer — my family has a paid DPK membership — and a reporter, however, something about the nonprofit children’s science museum bothered me. True, the $8 daily admission fee per person (ages 1 to anything older than 1) wasn’t extravagant but this area is, along with some wonderful things, an economically depressed one.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

DPK has countered my cynicism. On Monday, DPK launched its “Welcome” campaign in all markets, including Rockingham, Charlotte and Huntersville. The idea is to charge only $1 admission to each person (up to six) in a family that receives WIC or EBT (NC FAST) benefits. This opens up the museum — and the world of science — to practically every single young person in the area. There is very little reason not to go to DPK and, now, even cost is not on that short list if your family takes advantage of these benefits.

“While this initiative provides families with accessibility, more importantly, Welcome is intended to celebrate the diversity of perspectives and ideas in the community and stimulate positive and progressive change in educational outcomes for (Richmond County’s) children,” DPK officials said in a news release.

This move doesn’t come without cost, and it doesn’t come without a little bit of controversy.

First, the cost. Membership rates have increased. To join the Rockingham location, a family must now shell out $130 instead of $100 — a 30 percent increase. In addition, Family plus 1 membership increased by $35, and Family plus 2 went up now cost $40 more than before Nov. 6.

Photo by Jerry Ethridge Kevin Spradlin PeeDeePost.com managing editor

Photo by Jerry Ethridge
Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com managing editor

It’s not all bad news on the cost front, though. DPK’s Kaitlin Rogers told The Pee Dee Post that “after opening in early 2013, Rockingham’s admission prices were set after research on the community’s needs and reflective of the Museum’s funding. The community of Rockingham provided an endowment to Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham which allows the museum to continue operating at current ticket prices.”

Second, the controversy. Inevitably, DPK will face some backlash for this move. Some will say that they didn’t intend on subsidizing low-income families’ admission. Others will argue their children shouldn’t be forced to associate with the likes of those on welfare. My response? They should have thought of that prior to joining a nonprofit children’s museum. As a general rule, it’s the goal of any nonprofit to reach out to as many people as possible. This move simply makes sense, and makes the museum a truly community facility — with entry now within reach of just about anyone.

There are 667 family memberships at the Rockingham location. That likely won’t increase because of this move. Since Jan. 1, there have been 32,768 visitors through the DPK-Rockingham doors this  year. We’ll bet you — $1 — that’s up significantly this time next year.

To all the future scientists, explorers and inventors, I say, ‘c’mon in.”

Kevin Spradlin is managing editor of The Pee Dee Post. He can be reached at 910-331-4130 or peedeepost@gmail.com.

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  • unknown

    It’s a nice idea to only charge a $1 for those on government assistance but in the same token its wrong to charge full price to those who are working and trying to make it without government assistance. It seems with this economy that the one’s who dont want to try keep getting everything free while the one’s working seem to have to pay for all the one’s not working. It’s frustrating!!

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