Intermedia Arts in financial crisis

Arts organization hosts town hall meeting Friday

THE WEDGE — The dire state of the economy has plunged Intermedia Arts into financial “crisis,” the nonprofit arts organization reported in a message on its website Monday.

Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Ave. S., will host a community town hall meeting 5:30 p.m. Friday to discuss the situation and rally support. The meeting notice included an urgent request for donations.

Board of Directors Chair James Farstad said funding from some major contributors had been cancelled or delayed in recent months, resulting in “a significant cash crunch.” Like individual investors, many foundations have seen their assets dwindle with the turmoil in the global financial markets. 

“We’ve seen a significant falloff in some of that regular grant activity,” Farstad said.

As a result, the organization was forced to make several tough choices.

Beginning next month, five full-time staff members will be shifted to contract or hourly positions. Staff was informed of the change about two weeks ago, Farstad said.
The Intermedia Arts gallery and poetry library will close to the public. The building will only open for events that are already funded.

Farstad said the organization’s leadership recognized that Intermedia Arts relied too heavily on grants from foundations and corporations. A recently developed strategic plan called for Intermedia Arts to get more funding from individual donors over the next three to five years.

Now, that shift must occur in the next three to five months, Farstad said.

The timeline for dealing with the organizations’ current cash-flow crisis is even shorter. Farstad put it at about three to five weeks.

Intermedia Arts is far from the only local arts organization to take a hard hit in this economy. At least four closed earlier this year, Farstad said, adding: “From what I hear, we’re at risk of losing a number more.”
He said Intermedia Arts would host a State of the Arts meeting with representatives from small and mid-sized arts organizations Friday to discuss collaboration and the sharing of resources. That meeting will take place before the town hall discussion and will not be open to the public.

Intermedia Arts was founded in 1973 as University Community Video. It began as a group of University of Minnesota student activists and community members using emerging video technology to explore social issues.

The name changed to Intermedia Arts in the 1980s, as the organization expanded beyond video to include other artistic disciplines. It moved to its current location in The Wedge in 1994.