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Rochester Art Center lays off 5 employees as part of 'financial restructuring'

Rochester Art Center lays off 5 employees as part of 'financial restructuring'

The woes continue for the Rochester Art Center.

We learned Tuesday morning that the center's executive board has laid off five employees, including two full-time staffers, as part of a "financial restructuring" plan. RAC's balance sheet had been in the headlines in recent months after an audit revealed the center was facing financial troubles.

The two full-time employees were: Chad Allen, director of community engagement, and Joan Lovelace, administrative operations director. Lovelace had been with the art center for more than 30 years. The other three positions, two of which were in finance, were part-time.

News of the layoffs comes amid a difficult stretch for the art center, which has gone through a perpetual state of musical chairs of employees over the past several years.

This past January, former executive director Megan Johnston abruptly left the organization. While board members declined to give a reason for the departure, sources later said privately that it was, at least in part, a result of the center's financial position.

But even given the circumstances, staff were still caught off-guard by Tuesday's announcement. "[The layoffs] came out of nowhere," one former employee told us.

Update: Brad Nuss, the board's president, and Lee Koch, the center's interim director sent out the following email Tuesday evening:

"Thank you for your continuing support as we work to align the financial structure and mission for Rochester Art Center. The generous outpouring of advocacy and words of encouragement are deeply appreciated. RAC is clearly a valued asset for this community as evidenced by your willingness to step forward with help at this critical juncture.

Now that we have completed the financial assessment and have a budget for 2017 that provides a pathway for the organization to reach financial balance and a 2018 budget that would allow us to begin a reserve fund for future sustainability, we are moving into the next phase of the work. Our approach is to create some additional earned and contributed revenue from key sources while reducing expenses, always mindful of our responsibility as stewards of public and private support.

This week, we are completing a staff re alignment that will contribute to balancing the budget and provide a platform for RAC to continue to deliver on it's mission in the community. As we emerge with a strong team in place and consulting support from experienced professionals in the field of arts and culture, and legal/financial, we can continue into the next phase of re structuring which allows us to explore various models for the organization and program/product delivery. Many strong partnerships await Rochester Art Center and we appreciate your willingness to work together with shared imperatives.

We look forward to seeing you all at the Annual Meeting on May 24 at 5:30 at RAC. It is open to everyone this year and we hope to share all the details of our work with you and receive your good guidance as well. RAC is everyone's Art Center and so important to our bright future here in this community."

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