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Thursday April 24, 2014
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Life after Chamberlin



Chamberlin built the Art Center into an institution--one that could afford to pay an executive director and a rotating roster of paid subordinates, supported by volunteers and a well-connected board. Over the years, as the fundraising climate improved, then worsened, it has grown, then shrunk, rented, bought, and sold space, and currently is back in its original location, doing much of what it was doing when Chamberlin started. In recent years, since the loss of Pfizer's underwriting and the recession, it has reduced staff and expenses while growing student enrollment (particularly in summer camps) and art sales.

"We made a conscious decision to make more income earned than unearned," Chamberlin says of the latest changes. Historically, she says, the split has been about half and half--50 percent earned (from memberships, gallery sales, and classes), 50 percent donated. "Because of the financial debacle, fewer and fewer companies were giving less and less," she explains, so earned income is now up to 65 percent of this year's $750,000 budget. "We feel very fortunate," Chamberlin says.

In August, Chamberlin said the board was in the "last phase" of hiring her successor. Board president Carrie Hensel, owner of Inner Circle Media, says they aren't looking to change the center's mission--"We don't want someone who is going to come in and say, 'We are going to offer dance!'"--but want a person "with a high level of business acumen, who knows how to get tied into the art community."

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