|My friend Rhonda Morgan and her staff will leave Arts Council|
According to a press release from the Arts Council: "Over the next month, the volunteer-lead Arts Council will carefully examine its current programs and services as well as assessing future funding options to help address the key programs/services provided to the arts and cultural community in the region."
The release says, "The board regretfully has made the decision to release the current staff while funding opportunities are pursued. The board is extremely grateful to the staff who have all worked tirelessly to uplift the mission of the Arts Council and provide necessary services to the community in light of these difficult economic times." The director of the Arts Council, Rhonda Morgan, has made significant progress with the programs, but money has always been a problem for the council.
Rhonda is a close friend of mine and it's hard to be neutral about this, but the Arts Council has never been known for the strength of its boards. I was a member for a short while, but left, frustrated that there was little leadership, no vision and no idea how to escape the morass that the council found itself in. Rhonda was a breath of fresh air, but now that has become smelly hot air, I'm afraid. My guess is that life is seeping out of the Arts Council and that its advocacy will be but a whimper in the future.
Board memberVern Danielsen will serve as Interim executive director, handling the day-to-day activities of the Council and will work with the board in planning. Arts Council President Wayne Strickland says, "Vern has worked in this region for several decades and has a commitment to ensuring the arts and cultural organizations in the region thrive in the future.”
For 36 years, according to the release, the Arts Council has been a significant voice for arts and cultural organizations in the region as well as support the work of individual artists. Some of the important projects the Council has undertaken over the years include:
- Preparation of Blueprint 2000 (a guide for arts and cultural organizations on working collaboratively to promote the arts in the region and assessing alternative funding opportunities)
- Sponsoring legislative meetings with State and local officials to advocate for arts and cultural organizations
- Conducting economic impact analyses of the arts and culture in the region to highlight its economic importance
- Establishing Roanoke Youth Arts Connections
- Pursuing its signature events – the Kendig Awards and Downtown Living
- Establishment of the GAP program (a donor sponsored program which provided grants to individual artists)
- Developing a comprehensive Arts and Cultural Calendar
- International Cultural Exchanges