An uncertain future

Central Iowa Art Association lays off employees, cuts programs

Weeks

Weeks

For nearly 75 years, the Central Iowa Art Association (CIAA), housed inside the Fisher Community Center, has been a bastion of art appreciation, study and instruction. But the organization’s current state is one of uncertainty.

“We had some financial dilemmas this year,” said Executive Director Keeley Weeks.

Operating expenses, program costs, taxes, rent, the care of its Ceramics Study Collection, and not having an accountant available to consult with, have all combined to create a financial drain on the organization. As of the printing of this article, the CIAA is in need of roughly $20,000 by Jan. 1, 2018 to stay current with its bills.

Its only two paid employees, Weeks, who serves in a full-time capacity, and part-time assistant Katelyn Zatovich, will both be laid off, effective Nov. 30, as a cost-saving measure. Weeks, however, will be retained on a contractual basis, to operate the CIAA’s programs and events.

“Nothing has been canceled. We are still holding all our scheduled events, including our Artist Holiday Show & Sale on December 2,” Weeks said.

Its board has met several times in recent weeks to discuss ways in which debts can be paid off and how to reduce over-all spending. The CIAA functions on a $100,000 a year operating budget, made up of local and national grants, membership, donations, and its programs.

“We’ve been slipping into the red. It’s not working. We don’t have enough money coming in,” said Board President Robert Moore. “We need to get down to the core of what we do best — teaching classes and providing programs — and de-emphasize what loses money or doesn’t bring any in.”

Before Weeks was brought onboard as a part-time art instructor in March 2015, then as a full-time staff member in March 2016, the CIAA did not have any paid staff, at least in recent years.

“I doubled, then tripled, the amount of programs here and wrote more grants, and was asked to be brought on full-time as executive director in January 2017,” Weeks said. “Program attendance is up this year.”

Kathy Heinrichs, who now serves as the organization’s treasurer, has taken on the responsibility of sorting through financial records — and lack thereof — complicated by previous CIAA boards and former members.

“Some of our issues in 2016 was not having an accountant, which led to miscalculation on amount asked for a large grant that funds our most popular/most attended kids clubs,” Weeks explained. “We also need to have our Ceramics Study Collection appraised. Also, state and federal taxes switching from quarterly to monthly had a small impact as well.”

Low fundraising and membership drive figures further compounded the complex financial situation.

Some pieces of artwork owned by the CIAA that have been authorized for selling, will be offered for sale at the Artist Holiday Show & Sale, along with artwork created by local artists.

Wanting to reach out to the public about its struggles and hopes for the future, the CIAA will host a community forum on Friday, Dec. 8 from 8-8:30 a.m. in the Fisher Community Center Auditorium. Community stakeholders and the general public are invited to attend.

“We are not asking for a handout — we’re asking for advice,” Weeks said. “The goal is to generate ideas for the survival and direction of the CIAA.”

The current board members are as follows: President: Robert Moore; Vice President: Scarlet Sharp; Treasurer: Kathy Heinrichs; Secretary: Anna Vaughn; and members Sarah Gilbert, Dave Taylor, Janelle Carter, Carroll McInroy, Kyle Landas, Kamar Essex, Jon Muller, Patrick Hansen and Sarah Rosenblum. The CIAA may be reached at: 641-753-9013 and info@theartcentermarshalltown.org

———-

Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com