FROM THE BOARD PRESIDENT
As I think back on this last year, the idea that most comes to mind is “challenging.” The current deep recession has had a shattering impact on many individuals, busi- nesses and institutions. And of course the art world has felt the impact of dwindling endowments and the changed financial situations of donors. Brandeis University is considering closing its Rose Art Museum and selling works from its permanent collection, which includes important pieces by American artists such as Roy Lich- tenstien, Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning and Jasper Johns. The Orange County Museum of Art recently sold 18 California Impressionist paintings from the early 1900s. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art cancelled three major exhibitions, and the Getty Trust, which operates the Getty Museum as well as conservation, research and grant-making programs, is cutting its operating budget for the coming fiscal year by around 24%, while the Getty Museum is shedding 62 positions and a quarter of its budget. This is just a sample of how some art institutions have had to come to grips with the realities of funding budgets in our current economic times. As David Robertson, a Northwestern University professor who is president of the Association of College and University Museums and Galleries said, “It’s always art that goes first.”
Although the Salina Art Center hasn’t been immune from the economic downturn, I am grateful that we have ended our year “in the black” and are optimistic about our future budget. We have been able to do this through the hard work and diligence of a skillful staff and dedicated Board and volunteers—all of whom have stayed focused on our mission: to create exchanges among art, artists and audiences that reveal life.
The economy hasn’t been the only challenge the Art Center has faced this past year. Following the resignation of Heather Ferrell last June, a search committee of faithful and loyal Art Center supporters enthusiastically set out to find the very best person to fill the position of Executive Director and Curator. They fulfilled their mis- sion, and on July 1, 2009, Christopher Cook started a new era of leadership at the Salina Art Center. As the former curator of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and the Sioux City Art Center, Christopher has worked with both established and emerging artists and developed a network of supportive colleagues. We know he will bring an atmosphere to the Art Center that is collaborative, dynamic, innova- tive and intellectually demanding. (After receiving our press release announcing the hiring of Christopher Cook, Alice Thorson, the art critic of the Kansas City Star, called me and asked, “How did you pull off such a dream coup?”)
And finally, I would be remiss without recognizing a person who answered the call to another challenge. For the past year, along with her usual gargantuan duties as Director of Community Development, Wendy Moshier took on the added job of Interim Executive Director. Along with the many day-to-day chores that both jobs demand, she added the tasks of directing the first full year of our Artist-in- Residence program in the newly renovated Warehouse, overseeing the daunting responsibility of re-accreditation by the American Association of Museums, and
and offering our a steady course
usual high level of activities. We are grateful of connecting art with contemporary issues.
Challenges? Yes, we have had a few. But I am happy to report that art was NOT the first thing to go here, because in Salina, Kansas, the art goes on and on and on….
Sydney Soderberg President Salina Art Center Board of Trustees