Amid financial chaos, Glenwood Springs art center to close in May
The Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts, whose finances are the subject of a police investigation, is unable to pay its instructors and vendors and, “barring some miracle,” will close after its annual “Dancers Dancing” production on May 12-13, the center’s board said in a news release Thursday evening.
“The Board of Directors has determined, at the present time, without further financial support from either the city of Glenwood Springs or from significant donations, it cannot meet its expenses, including current liabilities to vendors and its instructors,” said the news release from board attorney Charles Willman.
“The board cannot justify allowing its instructors to continue to perform services without being compensated. The board desires to pay all past obligations, but given its current financial position, this simply cannot be done. The board hopes to be able to raise enough money to pay all of its instructors at least part of the monies due to them, but unfortunately there is no guarantee this can happen.”
In the release, board chair Kate McRaith said, “Barring some miracle, ‘Dancers Dancing’ will be the swan song of the Art Center.
“It is bitterly sad for all of us on the board to say that, but we want ‘Dancers Dancing’ to be a celebration, more than anything,” she said. “It’s the 25th anniversary of this incredible dance program, and these dancers have worked so hard. We’re excited to be able to witness their work pay off in a couple of weeks with these fantastic performances, even though it pains us that they will be the last from the art center.”
The closure comes after news that Glenwood Springs Police Department is conducting a financial investigation, which is ongoing.
The center’s executive director, Christina Brusig, resigned April 5. She told the Post Independent last week that she lacked adequate support from the board. Inquiries to others, including McRaith, about Brusig’s resignation were referred to Glenwood Police Chief Terry Wilson. Wilson confirmed the financial investigation, though he declined to link it to Brusig’s resignation.
In a personal matter, Brusig pleaded guilty Monday to felony check fraud charges in Eagle County. She admitted writing nearly $18,000 worth of bad checks to a landlord whom authorities said she avoided for months before writing the checks.
As part of her deferred sentence, Brusig agreed to pay $8,235 by Wednesday. Fifth Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown confirmed Thursday that she paid in excess of $11,000.
According to the nonprofit arts center’s 2015 IRS forms, which are the most recent available, expenses outpaced revenue by $121,703 that year. The forms showed the art center’s total assets decreased from $416,545 in 2014 to $311,253 in 2015.
Police Chief Wilson said last week that the investigation of center finances will likely take several weeks to complete.
Former board Vice President Karin Cooper-Phelps has also supplied the Post Independent with letters that she and another former board member presented to the board and to the city in 2015. Those letters outlined a number of concerns of financial mismanagement at the center, including the center’s accounts being excessively overdrawn, bounced checks, payroll in disarray and delayed payments.
Willman and McRaith did not return calls and emails seeking further information.
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Courtney Hassell says she could have been completely disillusioned with schools and education, and in many ways she was, after an experience three years ago at Glenwood Springs High School.