Sunday, February 14, 2010

What's up with WindhamARTS?

Good question!

There will be much more to share after Wednesday's meeting (February 17th, 6pm, upstairs at WindhamARTS), but in the meantime, a couple of updates gathered by me, Amy Kalisher, your friendly neighborhood communications volunteer...

About our space on Main Street: Kim Radda (board Chair) and Nat Brown (most recent board Treasurer) met with representatives of WAIM and Horizon, another local nonprofit, this past Thursday, February 11th. Nat sent me a brief update from the road (he's been traveling this week), with promises to elaborate ASAP. Here is the nuts and bolts of our communication thus far:

NAT: The REALLY short version is that Horizons is interested in the space but needs to decide if it can make it work. WAIM has had the market rental assessed and would like to receive more rent because it needs to make repairs - such as fixing the heat in the downstairs galleries. Current artists should expect that they could stay, even if Horizon comes in. But there are nuances that my poor thumbs on my [Blackberry] can't sustain. Probably more questions raised than answers.
AMY: When you have time, the burning question for me is: how much is WAIM hoping to get for the entire space (or how much is Horizons offering, and for what parts?)
NAT: WAIM is starting at 800 for the first floor. The bigger issue is that Horizon - if it decides it likes the space - is able to rent the whole thing and make improvements too.

Programs and daily operations: As we transition to an organization run entirely by volunteers, we need to be very clear about obligations we have to fulfill regarding grants we've received and our intentions and abilities regarding sustaining our status as a state-designated Local Arts Agency. As things stand, this is important both in terms of fulfilling our mission as an organization and because the state helps supports us financially in doing so. On that front, here's a tidbit from an email from Kim Radda:

KIM: We are an LAA and have been funded as such through this year and, hopefully next as the grant we submitted was for 2-year funding. I am in touch with John Cusano, the LAA director at the Commission on Culture and Tourism, and someone who knows WAC well and is very supportive of us as an organization, and of the transitions/changes we are going through. I'll be meeting with him next week and will talk with him about expectations and responsibilities re: WAC, as we work through these next several months of planning, restructuring, reorganizing. He continues to offer to come to Willimantic and meet with our group. He has a tremendous amount of experience and a lot that he can offer.

As I see it, there's a lot of exciting work ahead of us. What happens next — priorities, vision, strategic planning — is entirely up to us. All of us. Come to the meetings, it would be great to see you there, and, speaking personally, I'd love to meet more people who are passionate, or even simply curious, about this process! Share your ideas, hopes, questions by clicking on "comments" below this post.


  1. I still keep going back to the original question, which I think needs to be answered by the entire membership: Do we want to stay at the current location?
    If so, can we afford it, if we operate as an all-volunteer organization?
    If so, but we can't afford it, are we willing to sublet the downstairs to Horizons or SWAC? Is either organization compatible? Or can we find a tenant/s for the upstairs? A combination?
    If so, what can we offer WAIM for the total rent?
    I don't think WAIM understands that any of us are even considering these possiblilities, as those discussions happened after the meeting that Victoria attended. She only heard that we had to give up the space. So she, of course, began to explore WAIM's alternatives. But if we want to stay, we can make an offer. WAIM's board meets Weds afternoon.
    I believe that WAC should be talking directly to Horizons and SWAC, to see if either of them would be a compatible tenant with us. I don't feel that I am empowered to do that.
    On another note, Erbin Crowell of the Cooperative Fund of New England is eager to meet with WAC on Feb 26th to talk about what we can/should do to move forward. He has many years of experience in forming, working in, and surviving in the coop mode as a founder of Equal Exchange. We can discuss this more on Weds.

  2. Apologies for not getting a set of bullets out. My paying job is keeping me busy. (Self employment is supposed to give one lots of flexibility, right?!)

    The key details are posted. Will fill in anything possible on Wednesday.



  3. Here’s my fantasy from last night (changes daily, of course): WAAC, SWAC and Wrench all share the WAIM space, as “Art Coop Central.” Office space is rented to Thread City, Willi Ren, the Coop Hub and WAC, w/ shared expenses for phone, internet, insurance, copier. Wrench runs the Annex area. Somehow SWAC and WAC have to share the gallery space, and that’s the part that’s hardest. Maybe SWAC closes for a few months at a time? It was suggested that we could rent the gallery to artists for a month at a time, so Horizons could rent it a few times. Gee, now we need more space…