CARBONDALE, Colorado - The Carbondale Council for the Arts and Humanities (CCAH) has laid off one of its three key staffers for financial reasons, and is about to lose a second to another job, according to officials with the organization.
Amy Kimberly, executive director of CCAH, confirmed on Tuesday that former executive director Ro Mead, who most recently was director of education and programs, was laid off on Nov. 21.
The decision, Kimberly said, came after the CCAH board of directors concluded it could no longer afford Mead's position.
In addition, operations manager Holly Gressett will be leaving her job at the end of December, Kimberly said, although Gressett's departure was her own decision and unrelated to budgetary shortfalls.
"We're not going under," declared Kimberly. The board had been wrestling with low fundraising numbers and concluded the budget needed to be trimmed, she said.
"They decided to make some moves so we would be financially stabilized," Kimberly said, adding that the board is hoping to come up with a financial package to ease Mead's departure.
Mead, reached at her home on Tuesday, was dispirited but not critical of the organization.
"I'm happy to have been part of the tremendous growth that we achieved," she said of the organization, which has steadily expanded its operations and facilities since the 1980s.
"And the move to the Third Street Center was wonderful for the organization. I wish CCAH well in the future, and I hope they continue their growth," she said.
Mead was on the CCAH board, off and on, for several years prior to becoming director in 2004. She was instrumental in doubling the organization's membership and creating such programs as the First Friday celebrations, a curriculum-based arts program for local schools, and other initiatives.
"I only hope that the programs that we all started, and that are important to me, continue," she said. She said she has no interest in returning to work for CCAH, if offered a job in the future.
According to Kimberly, the organization had set a budget of $470,000 for 2012, she said, and Mead was expected to raise money for her own salary as a function of her duties.
"That didn't happen," Kimberly said, emphasizing that it was not a failing on Mead's part and that she holds Mead in continued high regard as an artist and a community activist.
The organization's co-treasurer, Mark Harris, told the Post Independent, "We're $40,000 to $50,000 or more under budget" for this year.
The explanation for that shortfall, he said, is simple: "We're still in a difficult economic time and people are just not coughing up donations the way they have in the past."
Some CCAH programs have done well financially, he said, most notably the annual Carbondale Mountain Fair, which happens on the last full weekend in July every year.
But other programs, such as arts in the schools and the "Green Is The New Black" fashion show, did not generate the expected revenues in 2012, he said.
No further layoffs or staff reductions are planned "that I'm aware of," he said. The CCAH board is working to finalize a budget for 2013.