Fine Arts director vows to carry on organization's activities
Carolyn Bennett, who has served as the director of the Yuma Fine Arts Association since 2008, says that she intends to carry on her duties even though the board disbanded and the city in mid-October issued a 30-day notice it was terminating its funding to the organization.
“The board members who created this chaos fired themselves, not me,” she said.
She said the bylaws are very clear that the board hires and can fire the director for cause, and this specific process was not followed before most of the board members resigned.
“I think as a group we all need to take a step back from the drama and take a collective breath,” she said. “We still have two board members and a group of caring individuals who have formed an interim board. They may or may not have legal standing, but they are a support structure much needed at this time.”
Bennett said she still considers herself the executive director and will continue to carry out the business of the organization until a new board is installed and a new director selected.
Although the organization doesn't have an official board at the moment, it still has about 300 members and a lot of community support, she noted. “And we have a great artist community in Yuma.”
Bennett pledged that in the interim, Yuma Fine Arts will have shows and special events as scheduled.
“I'll do it on a volunteer basis if needed,” she said. “It's important to have the continuity. I want to make sure we have a smooth transition ... it's so important to maintain the momentum. We have bills to pay, artists to put under contract, exhibits to open. We have several events coming up. The whole year is planned.”
That begins with the Yuma Artists annual 2012 opening on Nov. 15. Bennett said several new artists have submitted work along with many other local artists.
On Nov. 16, the Parks Arts and Recreation Commission will hold the North End Art Walk, and Heritage Festivals is holding the inaugural Yuma Medjool Date Festival Nov. 17 on Main Street with a small exhibit in the Yuma Art Center.
In addition, Children's Festival, an annual event created by the Yuma Art Center staff in cooperation with the Yuma Area Art Educators, will culminate Saturday on Main Street with children's art projects, music, food and children's art exhibits on display in Yuma Art Center galleries.
Bennett also is making plans for the Yuma Fine Arts 50th anniversary celebration on Dec. 7 that will include the Founders Exhibit and a reception. The center of the exhibit will be Pete Golden, who in 1950 paid his $2 to be a junior member of the Yuma Art Center. Bennett also hopes people will lend works from their collections by other founding artists and teachers.
In addition, a book on the history of Yuma Fine Arts, first started in 1950 by a handful of local artists and incorporated 12 years later, is being compiled with the assistance of several people.
“I have four years of sweat equity in Fine Arts,” Bennett concluded. “I don't want it to end. It's more than about me and those board members. The arts feed our souls, and in this time of divisiveness and stress we need the arts more than ever. Take a moment to look at something beautiful today and take a deep breath. It's always all right in the end.”
Joyce Lobeck can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6853. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YSJoyceLobeck or on Twitter at @YSJoyceLobeck.