2020 started out well for the Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center. The Thomas Gallery was filled with our first exhibit, Wild Things. Our adult program was in full swing with life drawing sessions, painting critiques and ceramic classes running at about 80% enrollment. Our spring Art After School youth program in four local schools had roughly 65% enrollment.
Then came the Covid-19 virus. Our community came under a shelter-in-place order. We were compelled by state health guidelines to close the Art Center facility to the public on March 16. Our first concern, of course, was the health and safety of our members. However this resulted in canceling the next gallery exhibit, and all scheduled adult, ceramic and youth classes and activities.
The following is a description of what the Board of Directors and other volunteers have done to help keep the Art Center alive and kicking this past year. Included are some of the Board’s ideas and plans going forward in 2021.
Board of Directors:
As the SCMAC does not have a paid Executive Director, the Board of Directors is responsible for the management of the Art Center. The Board meets on the second Monday of each month. This past year we have been holding our monthly meeting via Zoom. These meetings are open to the public. Anyone interested in attending should send a request to be included to firstname.lastname@example.org at least one week prior to the scheduled meeting.
Two Board members resigned during the year. Rebecca Goodman left the Board, as her family moved from the area. Evelyn Lieshing also left the Board, but she continues her activity with the Arts Now project. At this time, we are seeking to fill three vacancies on the Board. Anyone interested in participating, please ask one of the Board members for information or come to a monthly Board meeting (see above).
The membership will be receiving an invitation to join our virtual Annual Meeting this April. We encourage all members to attend. Included on the agenda is the opportunity for members to vote on new and old Board Directors.
As a consequence of State Law AB 5, our part-time office manager, Gretchen McPherson, is now an employee and no longer an independent contractor. She has been a tremendous help during the past year as she takes care of accounting, processes class registration, works on website development and maintenance, creates our weekly emails and many other tasks. She is presently our only employee. We are applying for grants to hire a part-time social media coordinator to help create consistent community outreach.
During the past Summer, we had hopes of opening the Art Center on a limited basis. We wrote protocols, did planning and performed walk-throughs in preparation. However, these efforts were canceled, first due to the local wild fires and ensuing evacuations in August, then by State orders when county virus cases increased rapidly.
Even though we were not able to hold art exhibits inside the Thomas Gallery during 2020, SCMAC adapted by offering virtual shows hosted on our website. The gallery windows have been kept current with work samples from these virtual shows. The Curatorial committee plans for all 2021 exhibits to be virtual until such time we can safely open for indoor events. In addition, we are currently looking to add new features to the website that will offer online sales and a gift shop.
As weather improves and health restrictions are lifted, the outdoor ceramics program will slowly begin to reopen. Once we are given a green light to meet indoors, the other adult classes and functions will resume.
Our Art After School program will start up again once local schools are back to in-person classes and they give approval for us to return. This will likely not happen until Fall. We will keep you posted on when our other youth programs, like Summer Art Camp, will resume.
In general, we would like to know what is important to our membership to help us prioritize projects and would like to encourage membership participation. Please share your thoughts in the following survey:
In 2019, the Art Center made major improvement to the building. Structural issues were repaired, the outside of the building was painted and trees trimmed.
For 2021, we would like to make repairs to the sidewalk in the front of the building, improve the backyard and stage access, and replace the glaze shed. We are currently seeking grant funding for these projects. But we could really use your help. We are looking for a volunteer project manager to assist in obtaining construction quotes and be willing to work with the county planner.
Many thanks to the several dedicated volunteers, under the leadership of David Kurtz, who help keep the facility safe and clean.
The COVID crisis has also had a serious financial effect on the Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center. Although our expenses were lower than normal due to the closure, our income has also severely declined. Our 2020 shortfall comes to about $20,000. The Art Center’s prudent reserve fund will help carry us forward through the fall, as we continue to pay basic monthly bills and larger fixed costs like insurance, property tax and the associated costs of implementing AB 5. After the initial high cost of shutting down, we are currently running an average monthly deficit of approximately $1200. With the help of a very dedicated volunteer, we are actively seeking grant and other funding to help with covering these costs as our means to generate revenue remain limited for now. The Board continues to closely monitor SCMAC’s finances.
We would love to hear your ideas and are seeking volunteers to sit on a fundraising subcommittee. This is a tough year, and we will need to do more to help raise funds to keep the lights on. Please sign up to help us take action now:
The Art Center is a valuable community resource in the San Lorenzo Valley. Our beautiful valley has been severely impacted by natural disasters this year. But we’ve been equally struck by the outstanding response of people in this valley to these events. From fighting the fires, rescuing animals, delivering food, educating the kids, making and wearing masks; to giving money, time, and resources to our neighbors; we really have all been in this together.
Thank you all for being there!
Board Chair, Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center