By Dakota Antelman , Contributing Writer
Hudson – Facing a $45,000 budget deficit, leaders of The River’s Edge Arts Alliance said that the group could be needing reorganization in order to cut costs and avoid future shortfalls. As they try to reorganize, the Board of Directors has asked Arts Alliance members for help.
Speaking at a public meeting earlier this month, members of the Arts Alliance administrative staff laid out the causes and repercussions of the current deficit. Grants that the Arts Alliance once relied on are no longer available and state funding for community arts programs has continually lagged.
Locally, three of the Arts Alliance’s flagship programs, the River’s Edge Players, a community theater troupe, the adult chorus, and the concert band have failed to break even for several years. Overhead costs for paid staff, performance spaces, and insurance have added to the deficit as well. In response, the Arts Alliance has asked its members to consider ways to cut the costs of their shows and bring in additional revenue.
“There’s only so much we can do in the office,” explained Program Manager Danielle Moskowitz. “There are only two of us and we’re spread pretty thin. So we do need help from these people if they are passionate to see these programs continue, we do need them to step up and help.”
The Arts Alliance first called on its members at their finance meeting July 6. So far, each of the three groups that are failing to break even has had a representative step forward to help coordinate proposed solutions to the deficit. The board will meet later this month to consider those solutions and decide how the Arts Alliance will proceed with any changes to its structure.
“We as a board are going to take that information that we get and see if we have people truly saying that they want to help with fundraising and volunteering,” said Lisa Schliker, board secretary. “We will ask ourselves ‘can we make a commitment to keep these programs open?’”
Schliker said that, depending on what solutions the affected programs come up with, the board may approve a small budget that could cut the River’s Edge Players, the chorus, and the band, or a larger budget that preserves those programs but incorporates community solutions to prevent a future deficit. Schliker suggested changes like raising registration fees, or groups handling more paperwork themselves in order to give the office staff more time to peruse grants for the Arts Alliance. She adds that reaching out to new local businesses for donations could also bring in more money for shows.
“We can continue doing theater, for example, but we need help figuring out how to not lose money putting on a production,” said Moskowitz. “Nothing is in danger of getting cut unless these people don’t step forward and help.”
This year’s financial struggles come after the Arts Alliance nearly closed last summer. Facing what was then a $30,000 deficit, the Arts Alliance turned to the community asking for money to keep the doors open through 2016. The organization set up a Go Fund Me campaign and was able to successfully raise the money. Though similar in the size of the deficit, Moskowitz and Schliker agreed that the current situation is not as dire as it was last summer.
“We can stay open,” said Moskowitz. “Our doors aren’t going to close immediately as long as we can make some changes to the way we’re working. We’re not saying we need to raise another $45,000. We can’t do that every year because that’s not viable.”
Last summer, the Arts Alliance was focused on the short-term goal of remaining operational through their next season. This year, Schliker said, the group is looking long term as it tries to find a new structure to its programming that will allow it to better fund itself.
“We’re in a little bit of a better shape this year but still we’re just getting to that point where we need to not be working with expenses over income on a year-to-year basis,” Schliker said. “We’ve had to take a hard look at a lot of the programs to try to balance our budget and that’s sort of how we’ve got to where we are today.”