L/A Arts board ponders debt, future

LEWISTON — Debt and a sense that L/A Arts has drifted from its original mission has the group's board of directors considering the fate of the downtown arts agency.

John Painter, secretary of the board, said members have been meeting over the last few weeks to pour over financial documents. They're scheduled to meet Monday night.

"It's just a huge amount of stuff we are pawing through," Painter said. "I believe this will be a formal board meeting to get the sense of the board and determine, are we going to approach potential donors for help or do we need to look at Chapter 7? We have some major decisions."

Painter said the arts agency has more than $100,000 of debt.

"We've estimated that we'd need more than that to make it through the year," Painter said.

Painter said no single part of the debt stands out.

"It's really a range of things, almost too numerous to articulate," he said. "It's taken the board a huge amount of time to go over the paperwork and understand where we are and what our opportunities are, given the information that we have."

The board parted ways with Executive Director Odelle Bowman earlier this month. Josh Vink, director of the Arts in Education program, will serve as acting executive director going forward, Painter said.

Painter declined to comment on why and how Bowman left. She was director for two years and helped create several events during that time, including the February ICEfest L/A and the monthly Art Walks in downtown Lewiston. The group also helped operate a Lisbon Street art gallery for a time and a stage under its Lisbon Street office.

Painter said those may be the kind of things the organization will stay away from if it manages to survive.

"We have a number of arts organizations, theaters, music societies and other groups that we should not, in any way, compete with," Painter said. "I think there has been a little bit of concern about that."

Instead, Painter said the group may not sponsor performances, but support event and arts sponsors.

"It's been a straying from our original mission of advocacy, focusing on community arts education and support for the arts in general. There have been so many things, all over the place," Painter said. "We got to the point where we didn't have stringent enough financial controls in place, our business model just was not going to work as a result and there was some poor decision making about our priorities."

staylor@sunjournal.com

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Comments

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Sad to hear this

There has been an explosion in the arts community in LA in the past few years. The result has been beneficial to hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses. Far from competing with other arts venues the events sponsored by LA arts have created interest in what was going on elsewhere in our town. Take the art walk this week, for example, which will introduce art patrons to the wonderful dance program going on at Bates College. The Ladysmith concert held at the Bates chapel attracted people from all over New England to Lewiston. Many of the people I spoke to came here for the first time. There may need to be a change in the way LA arts is funded but the community will lose a gem if the arts are not given a place of importance in our community. Just last week The Public Theater was voted best in Maine in the Downeast Magazine survey. How do people from all over Maine hear about us and what we have to offer? We can thank LA Arts for much of it. We have a great momentum going here and we should not lose it.

David A. Gagnon's picture

Well Claire

if the proper business model had been applied and followed, would they be $100,000 in the hole. I think not. You shouldn't be spending money you don't have. Do you think the Dempsey Center would be around, if it was managed they L/A Arts was?

David A. Gagnon's picture

For the people who

just happened to disagree, it just proves how uneducated you are about running programs like L/A Arts. Programs like L/A arts should not have to rely on the tax payer to survive. They should be run as a none profit the same as the Dempsey Group. Your supporters should be organized enough to raise the funds needed to support your organization. L/A Arts has been run in typical liberal style, spend the money and we'll worry about raising the money later when we get around to it, or stick it to the tax payer. I happen to agree that we do need L/A Arts, but it needs to be run in the proper business model and be able to support itself and not run it into the crapper like was just done. There are other examples of liberal politicians run amuck in the Lewiston area. The Colisee is one prime example of politicians sticking their nose into something they had no business getting involved with. Need I go on.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

business model?

I don't know how LA Arts ended up with their debt. In fact nobody seems to know. That doesn't mean they can't raise funds and get out of it. I don't believe they are a for profit organization so I'm not sure what is meant by a business model in this instance. In any case there are many businesses that run into and out of debt. It shouldn't be too hard to find statistics on how many businesses go bankrupt.

David A. Gagnon's picture

Since when has L/A Arts

ever had a business model. It's just another Lewiston liberal pipe dream that's been run amuck.

Tony Morin's picture

Funny

Classic conservative carmudgeon post! "Bah humbug! We don't need the arts. Not if it takes a penny out of my change purse!"

David A. Gagnon's picture

You need to think

beyond the point of your nose Mr. Morin. You have yet to make sense when you post here.

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