Arts
6:23 pm
Tue April 24, 2012

Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts facing financial problems

The head of Michigan’s largest contemporary arts center has stepped down as part of a plan to stabilize the museum’s finances. The Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids is also cutting its hours.

The UICA’s board of directors voted on the restructuring plan this week to try to stabilize what they call a “declining financial situation”. But the board will not discuss details of the budget or the restructuring plan publicly.

Board President Kathryn Chaplow says the board has reached out to a small group of “major donors” to help with some immediate funding.

“It’s very rare for people to go through something like this. But with the way people step up its just overwhelming and its humbling. The UICA isn’t going anywhere,” Chaplow said.

The UICA’s executive director Jeff Meeuwsen has agreed to step down as part of the plan. He will stay on as a temporary consultant for up to 90 days. 

Chaplow says she hopes the cut in hours will be temporary. And she says the board will be seeking a new director.

The UICA is one of the largest contemporary arts centers in the country in terms of programs and square footage. It moved to a new, larger location in downtown Grand Rapids last summer.

Chaplow says that capital investment began in 2005 and it wasn’t clear how much arts funding or the overall economy would decline. However the building was completed with funds separate from the operating budget.

“This a remarkable building and people love the organization. That is without question. So this isn’t about the end of UICA. I see people posting things on facebook and talking about what’s going on and it’s really a beginning,” Chaplow said.