Guest opinion: Art center board strives to move forward
We are a volunteer board to an important and beloved nonprofit, the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts. We give our time and energy to the center because we believe in the center’s mission “to provide opportunities to create and enjoy the arts.” We believe access to art, music and dance classes is vital to molding an intelligent, hard-working, compassionate and open-minded community.
Until April 2017, we understood our organization to be financially viable with a modest fund balance. Less than four months ago, we released our 2016 Annual Report to the public with pride. At that time, and after hearing some staff voice concerns about operations, the board began taking steps to improve oversight of the operations of the art center. We took steps to create more checks and balances and to implement clearer separation of duties. We increased communications with our teachers; we better aligned payroll with cash flow, and we spent more of our volunteer time working with staff to address daily operational issues.
The board was continuing these efforts when it realized it could not meet current operation costs. The board could not, in good faith, ask our staff and teachers to continue working when we know the funds to pay them are not there and may never be there. We have determined that we need about $75,000 to pay all bills and instructors.
What only recently came to light about the art center’s financial situation has brought more than just shock to this board; it has brought anger, confusion and a deep, bitter sadness. We are feeling many of the same things our teachers, parents, volunteers and community members are feeling.
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Since we announced that we may need to shut to the doors after “Dancers Dancing,” the response from the community has been overwhelming. The board is hopeful that we will raise $75,000 or more and will be able to reverse our decision to cease operation of this wonderful community asset. If so, the board and its incredible community of teachers, volunteers and members are prepared to work tirelessly to make sure this never happens again and the art center thrives once more.
Some of the steps we have already taken in preparation for the possibility of remaining open are working with Peter Gilbert, executive director of Carbondale’s Dance Initiative, on a budget and business plan for our dance programs. Peter has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to running healthy nonprofits, and his guidance during a transition like this would be invaluable.
Betsy Suerth, former administrator and operations director for Basalt, Silt and Garfield County, has also offered to use her skills and experience to oversee operations of the art center on a volunteer basis. Countless others have come forward to offer their help and support, too, and we are prepared to tap into the strengths of each individual to make the art center thrive.
Strict financial oversight will be our main priority. We as a board will work closely with our outside bookkeeper to make sure the financial records are complete and accurate. We will assure each program pays for itself, and we will work with Peter Gilbert and others to build and maintain a financial reserve to assure the center’s sustainability.
We believe in the Center for the Arts and hold hope that the center will not close its doors; we have been moved and inspired by members of the community coming forward to offer their help. If we get the funds we need to stay open, every single one of us in the art center community will work tirelessly to ensure the community we are able to create and enjoy the arts under one beautiful roof once again.
Signed by members of the board of directors: Stacey Barnum, Jessica Cabe, Anais Liston, Melissa Matlock, John Quinn, Kate McRaith and Rita Wagner.
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