Arts commision scrambling to restructure
Following the South Lake Tahoe City Council’s termination of arts coordinator Phylise Walker’s contract in September, the Arts Commission is now scrambling to restructure and create a six month work plan.
The commission meets Tuesday for a workshop regarding the role of art and the commission.
“Basically we’re inviting people from different arts organizations to find out where we can go from here,” said Sharon Reardon, the commission’s chairwoman. “At this point, the main focus is keeping the arts commission together.”
Retaining the entire volunteer group however might prove harder than it sounds. One member, Greta Hambsch, already quit the commission following City Council’s dismissal of Walker. Walker’s contract was terminated because she requested, and accepted, money from City Manager Kerry Miller for health care coverage not included in her contract.
Tuesday’s workshop will be facilitated by Miller.
“Hopefully they can become very detailed on what needs to be accomplished in the next six months,” Miller said. “Part of that might include recommendations on the actual function of the arts commission, how it’s structured and specific projects they want to undertake in the future.”
Despite direction from City Council to provide a detailed outline of what the commission will be doing over the next six months, according to Reardon the commission is suffering from greater problems – such as a severe lack of confidence in the city council.
“Mainly we’re upset they handled the situation in this manner. We voiced our strong desire to keep Phylise Walker on the board, they agreed to keep her and even provided the funding, then they turned around and fired her,” Reardon said. “We feel disillusioned. The spirit is just not here. I believe we’ll try and move forward on this and keep it together, but there are many concerns and problems that need to be dealt with.”
One of those concerns is lack of time. The five-member commission is made up entirely of volunteers, all professionals who lack the time to pick-up the duties of a full-time arts coordinator. Then there’s the issue of funding.
“Probably our biggest concern is whether we are going to work a full year and then lose our funding when budget hearings come around,” Reardon said. “It certainly sounds to us like this was the last time City Council was willing to give funding to the arts.”
The arts commission will appoint a new member Tuesday to fill Hambsch’s vacated position.
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