Local News - Pro Art Cancels Remaining Shows
I was amazed to read this at the Pro Art website:
Pro-Art regrets to announce that, with the exception of a few of the smaller college programs, we will have to cancel all of the remaining programs in the 2006-2007 schedule. For the last three years, there has been a growing gap between our expenses and our income, and it has become apparent that we must cancel most of this spring's schedule so that we can re-stabilize Pro-Art and prepare for the 2007-2008 season. The underlying reason for our financial problems is that Pro-Art has been too ambitious. We have scheduled too many expensive programs, and our income has not kept up with our expenses. We wish to emphasize that the Pro-Art Board of Trustees has already taken steps to re-stabilize Pro-Art and procure funds, both to pay off debts and finance arts programs for next year. We also wish to emphasize that both the University of Virginia's College at Wise and Mountain Empire Community College are being very supportive to our efforts to deal with our financial problems.
Ok, I thought this cant be too bad. I am sure the financial problems could be fixed with a little begging for funds at the county level and private contributers. Boy was I wrong! According to my local newspaper, The Coalfield Progress, and writer Jodi Deal, that is not the case. The facts are the Pro Art folks have ran up a debt totaling $210,000. Jodi Deal writes:
New Pro-Art executive director Bonnie Elosser, who started her job Jan. 3, said in a Tuesday telephone interview that the organization owes the University of Virginia's College at Wise about $130,000 and owes a local bank about $80,000. Pro-Art's annual budget is about $375,000, she noted. The organization has less than $5,000 in the bank, Elosser explained. That's only enough to make a payroll or two for Pro-Art's two employees. A statement released by Pro-Art Tuesday noted that the financial problems were a result of Pro-Art having been "too ambitious" for the past three years.
"We have scheduled too many expensive programs, and our income has not kept up with our expenses," the statement said.
Damn, your budget was $375 thousand and you spent $585 thousand? My God, how could that happen people? The new director Bonnie Elosser said "the board "acted in ignorance" when approving the expenditures that put the organization into debt. The total cost of a show was never apparent because technical fees were considered separately." Gene Blackburn who is a Pro-Art board of trustees member and serves on the executive committee said "It allowed us to spend the money without being fully cognizant of how much of a debt we were incurring," Blackburn said. "When you only have to pay a debt every six months, there can be a tendency not to worry about it until the bill comes."
Bonnie Elosser hits the nail on the head with her statement. Mr Blackburn's comment is hard for me to understand. It is you your job to be "fully cognizant" sir. I sincerely hope Bonnie Elosser can get this sorted out. It sounds to me like she has a hard row to hoe. I have dealt with Ms Elosser in the past. She is hard working and diligent. I hope our residents can rise to the call and help out with funding. If the state is willing to gamble with $3 million dollars on making a movie in Big Stone Gap, then throwing a little cash to sustain Pro Art in the coalfields is not to much to ask.