Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts to stay open after outpouring of support | VailDaily.com

Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts to stay open after outpouring of support

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The Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts still needs $75,000 to pay its employees and vendors and to "start fresh," and the board is developing plans on how the center will financially operate in the future.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The financially struggling Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts announced Thursday that it will remain open, albeit with scaled-back operations, after receiving a boost in community support.

The art center's board president, Kate McRaith, estimated the financial contributions amounted to about $1,500. But she emphasized the non-monetary contributions that have been helping the art center. Individuals and business around the community have donated food, services and time, both for this weekend's Dancers Dancing event and for a fundraiser scheduled for June.

This follows the art center's announcement last month that it would close its doors following the event Dancers Dancing if the nonprofit did not receive significant funding support. In early April, the organization's executive director, Christina Brusig, abruptly resigned, and a police investigation into the art center's finances began days later.

Few details about that investigation are available as it is ongoing.

McRaith said she had heard no update on the police investigation or when it might conclude. "And believe me, we want to know."

Glenwood Lt. Bill Kimminau said investigators are waiting for a forensic audit to be completed.

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'AGGRESSIVELY FUNDRAISE'

On Tuesday, the art center's board voted to keep the center open after receiving "incredible support from the community," according to a Thursday press release.

"The impression we've received is that most of the community supports and wants to see the art center continue," McRaith said later in the day.

"The board will aggressively fundraise during this time of limited operations and will work with Peter Gilbert, executive director of Dance Initiative, and Betsy Suerth, former administrator and operations director for the towns of Basalt and Silt and for Garfield County, on a volunteer basis to create short- and long-term plans to restructure and make the center financially viable once again," the release said.

The arts center still needs $75,000 to pay its employees and vendors and to "start fresh," while the board is also developing plans to outline to the community how the art center will operate in the future.

BARE MINIMUM

These recent contributions alone aren't keeping the nonprofit in business. The doors will remain open because of a hard look at the center's operations to find places to cut back to a bare minimum. The board plans to cut costs after Fifth Day classes conclude at the end of May.

This will include keeping utility expenses as low as possible, cutting the hours of the assistant director, the last remaining full-time employee, to part time and having instructors contract directly with students' families.

"Some art center teachers have decided to continue classes as normal by renting space from the art center and contracting directly with students and families," the board's press release reads. "More details on this arrangement will be shared when contracts are finalized."

The short-term plan is to operate in this limited fashion to keep classes running through the normal summer program period. But this is news to the teachers, so McRaith wasn't immediately sure what summer programs will continue. That will depend on which instructors stay on board.

That will likely become clear during the next week. If summer programs are canceled that students already signed up for, then the art center will be able to refund those students, McRaith said.

Optimistic about the board's ability to pull the art center out of its financial chaos, McRaith said, "We're working on a rebirth plan."