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Arts Council Looking At Likely Closure

POSTED June 12, 2012 3:29 p.m.

The Stanislaus Arts Council, which has assisted many local arts organizations and sponsored a variety of musical and other events over the past 36 years, appears likely to go out of business on June 30. The group’s decision to fold, barring a last-minute miracle, was announced this week by board President Douglas Chadwick and Executive Director Grace Lieberman, who cited a lack of funds to continue operations.

Lieberman also announced her retirement as of the same date. She has worked without pay since January and said she could not afford to continue on that basis.

The decision to shut down is not set in concrete, however. The agency could be saved by a donor or donors who provide enough support to allow the Council to get back on its financial feet, but time is too short to mount a formal fund-raising campaign, Chadwick said. Since the Council is recognized as a 501(c) (3) charity, contributions are tax-deductible.

He estimated the cost of staying alive ‑ for salaries, office rental, utilities and other necessities ‑ at $15,000. That would carry the Council through October, by which time he expected it to be able to cover costs through its normal fund-raising and income-earning procedures. Chadwick said the council would be able to pay its bills, except salaries, through June 30.

Donations need to be received by Friday, June 22, the board president emphasized. If contributions fail to reach the total needed for the Council to continue, they will be returned.

The Council staff includes Executive Director Lieberman, a part-time office assistant and the part-time director of the Stanislaus Artists as Resources to Schools (STARS) program.

Founded in 1981 as the Stanislaus County Arts Commission, the organization originally acted as a conduit for state and local grants to arts organizations. It went private after tight economic conditions caused the loss of most governmental funding, and has been supported mostly by donations and grants from individuals, foundations and the California Arts Commission, as well as some earned income.

Lieberman has been the group’s executive director since the beginning, except for several years when she directed a similar program in Fairfield. She has provided advice and assistance on technical and financial matters to many arts organizations in Stanislaus County and beyond, focusing mainly on organizations too small to have professional staff.

For the past 14 years she has organized and promoted the Council’s annual banquet, which has honored outstanding local artists and arts supporters. She has also organized the Serenades on Sunday concert series, the Senior Spotlight annual variety shows and other events. The Council also sponsors bus trips to plays and art exhibitions in the valley, foothills and Bay Area.

Contributions should be sent to the Stanislaus Arts Council, 509 13th St., Suite 3, Modesto CA 95354. The office is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. For more information, call (209) 558-8628 or e-mail stanarts@att.net.

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