Chapman named gallery manager of the ArtsCenter on Main




Little did Laurie Chapman know when she took on the volunteer executive director role with Garden City Arts a few months ago that she  would become the executive director of the organization and also end up serving as interim manager of the Garden City Arts Gallery.

But Chapman says she is up for the challenge and is seeking to not only help the organization become more community-minded, but also to make it more self-sustaining.

"We just wanted to put the title in front of my name to show people that we're serious about this, that this is not just a gallery, (but that) we've got someone in here who's going to push the envelope, who's going to develop the programs, who's going to find the funding, so that we can be self-sustaining," Chapman said. "What that will entail is I'll be executive director and gallery manager until we can find funding to actually hire a gallery manager, because really, in order to tackle both positions you need two people, but because funding has been the way it's been, we're going to make due until we get to that point."

Chapman, whose first day in her new role was Tuesday, said that she and the board, which held its annual meeting Tuesday night, hope to take the GCA and the art gallery in a new direction.

Last year, when it was announced that funding for the arts in Kansas was being cut, there was concern that the gallery might have to shut its doors, but Chapman said that in the past few months, the board has tightened its belt, cutting unnecessary expenses and staying within budget on others. It also helped her to see the importance of being self-sustaining.

"That's one of the things that I've learned in the studying I've done is we need to be 60 percent self-sustaining, and we haven't been there in the past. So getting there will be a trial, but I think it's going to be a fun challenge," she said. "I think there's probably five new programs that we're going to unveil this year that we're hoping will bring in revenue for us, so we don't always rely on grants and fundraising and all the things that typically come with a nonprofit."

One of the programs already in place involves utilizing high school and college interns. Chapman said it helps her manage her workload and also helps the students develop work skills.

"It also helps us get grants," Chapman said, adding that a new state funding model that evolved with Gov. Sam Brownback requires that grant seekers institute a program that involves youth and gives them key work skills.

Chapman said they were unaware of this caveat when they started the intern program, so she was pleasantly surprised to realize they were already meeting that requirement. She still hesitates to rely too heavily on state funding, however.

"I did a lot of studying over the past, and I studied what other art centers are doing and how they were able to make it work, and we're using other people's success as a model. And if it's worked for them, how could it not work for us," she said.

All of the programs she hopes to develop are community-minded.

"I think that's what community organizations like ours are suppose to be doing. We're supposed to be filling in the gaps and meeting needs, and that fits with our mission, which is to enrich lives and encourage creativity. I think our new programs are going to do exactly like that," she said.

Some of the programs, such as The Never-Ending Workshop and Artful Afternoons, which were launched in 2012, promote art appreciation and provide art education to grade school students.

With those programs, donations were suggested, but not required of those who couldn't afford it. Chapman said this prompted local sponsors to cover some of the costs involved.

"And now we have a little bit of a fund built up to where we can start doing that again this summer, and we've got some money set aside that we can buy the supplies and roll it out again," she said.

While the GCA will continue to hold fundraising events, such as the annual garden party in June, Chapman said the focus is to provide more programs and services to the community.

"The other thing that we started this last year is we started renting this gallery, so we had two events and it was just gorgeous in here the way they set it up. You have the beautiful art on the wall, so I thought that was just right in tune with what we imagined would happen here," she said, adding that the art exhibits will continue as normal.

During Tuesday's meeting, election for board positions also took place. The selections were: Lara Bors, president; Nancy Harness, vice president; Elizabeth Baker, secretary; Risa DeVaney, treasurer; and Juliann Morland DaVee, corresponding secretary. The board of directors for 2013 includes Deb Huber, Alejandra Juarez, Anson Pruneda, Dominic Varrichio and Julie Nelson.

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