Illustration by Jay Gabler, from a screen capture of the NAC website
It looks like the Northside Arts Collective will not close after all. Last week, we reported that NAC had announced on its website via a letter from the board chair Kelly Hoffman that the board had voted to dissolve the organization. NAC, which was formed in 2001, has had some financial difficulties recently. There has also been some emotional fallout after their executive director Connie Beckers was let go last year. Since the board's announcement that they would dissolve the organization, members have come together to oppose dissolving the organization, and have asked board members to resign.
As reported earlier, Scott Nieman surveyed members following the previous board's announcement that it would dissolve—finding that 80 percent of members didn't want to see it dissolve.
At a board meeting on December 13, board chair Kelly Hoffman and board members Al Bertke, Phil Hernandez, and Ryan Peterson resigned from the board, with Ancietta Caldwell and Lucy Yogerst remaining. New members elected were Robert Johnson (chair), Erika Finney, Rachel Orman, Austin Gullixson, Pat Carney, and Meg Corcoran (secretary).
According to the meeting minutes, a number of financial issues were discussed at the meeting, including liabilities such as an unemployment insurance liability and outstanding payments for a mural to be completed by Charles Caldwell in spring 2011. The organization also has a contractual obligation with the City of Minneapolis for the West Broadway façade improvement program.
The minutes note that Pat Carney made a statement about how it is important for an arts organization to be around, and argued that dissolving is not the right thing to do.
After some discussion (and some "name calling," according to the minutes), the board proceeded to enact a rotating removal followed by an addition, with former board chair Kelly Hoffman resigning first, followed by Erika Finney joining, and so on until four board members had resigned and five had joined.
The new board appointed Robert Johnson as the new chair, and Meg Corcoran as the secretary.
"Basically, the old board just quit when they saw new members show up willing to take their place," wrote new chair Robert Johnson in an e-mail. "Not the best way to transition, but for the best to keep the organization viable and probably the best way to rally the troops."
Most of the new board members have been affiliated with the organization for a very long time, Johnson wrote. There are also potentially other community and business leaders who may be joining in the near future as well.
Johnson wrote that NAC plans to proceed with projects already in the works, such as the West Broadway Coalition and the façade program. "Nothing will change and we will proceed with these programs," he wrote. "For now the organization is safe and will not be dissolved."
In the coming weeks, the new board will be meeting to talk about new directions for the organization, including possible restructuring and taking a look at the bylaws, Johnson wrote. "It's not going to be easy," he said.
Former executive director Connie Beckers said she felt the change in board was a good thing, and will bring new ideas and new connections. "It was time for that kind of change," she said. "The old board did the right thing."
Former board chair Kelly Hoffman could not be reached for comment.