Yuma Fine Arts to select new board, move forward
Yuma Fine Arts Association members are invited to a meeting Tuesday to help determine its future.
The 7 p.m. meeting in the Kofa High School auditorium will select a new governing board for the organization formed 50 years ago to provide cultural and visual arts opportunities for Yuma and beyond.
The recent resignation of all but two board members led the city of Yuma canceling its contract with Yuma Fine Arts that included an allocation of $35,000 a year.
“It's very important for all members to come to the meeting,” said Merilyn Chilleen, board secretary and one of two remaining board members. “We need everyone so all interests are fairly represented.”
Chilleen stressed that this is a vital meeting to put together a new board so the organization can resume its mission and move forward.
“Right now we're at a standstill. We've closed the gift shop, canceled shows and put plans for our 50th anniversary on hold.”
Despite the difficulties, Chilleen says Yuma Fine Arts is a strong, 50-year-old organization that has been important not only to Yuma but also to the Southwest.
“It put arts on the map for the entire region. The impact has been huge for the arts.”
Yuma Fine Arts books art shows at the Yuma Art Center and installs exhibits there. It also puts on a variety of fundraisers, such as the Taste of Fine Arts, a huge event held in March featuring artwork, food samples and wine tasting.
“We have a whole season ahead of us ... shows and events,” Chilleen said.
For now it's unclear how the organization will celebrate its 50th birthday, she said, but it's unlikely the gala scheduled for Dec. 7 will take place.
However, work on a book about the organization's 50 years continues through the efforts of Carolyn Bennett, executive director since 2008, and Neely Tomkins. Bennett said they're working out of space provided by Colby Girard.
The Yuma Fine Arts office provided by the city at the Yuma Art Center has been locked until the organization is re-established, said City Administrator Greg Wilkinson. He also confirmed that the art center gift shop that Yuma Fine Arts operated is temporarily closed.
“For now, the city has secured the property of Yuma Fine Arts at the art center. We're waiting for the membership to reorganize.”
Wilkinson said the city has been helping the organization solicit applications for new board members and will assist as needed once the new board is in place.
In the meantime, the Yuma Art Center, 254 S. Main St., remains open and is busy, said Rex Ijams, the city's arts and culture program manager. “We have a lot of activities going on, classes and performance series. We've never been busier at the theater.”
The Children's Festival of the Arts exhibit will remain open in the gallery through December, and a few pieces from Yuma Fine Arts' permanent collection are still on the walls, he said.
“We're looking forward to working with them again,” he said of Yuma Fine Arts. “We will help them as much as we can so they can retain their schedule.”
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.