Monday, October 21, 2013

The Light Factory Regroups in Charlotte

The Light Factory, Charlotte's center for photography, has suspended its operations to engage in what is being called a "strategic planning process."

What that means is that they are out of money and are having to reassess their mission and means of operation.

For more information, go here. 

As they put it, "As the broader non-profit community has struggled to maintain funding support, The Light Factory also has experienced a decline in funding, including both contributed and earned revenue, of almost 30 percent over the past three years.

“Suspending operations was a very hard and difficult decision to make, and we had to do what is in the best interest of the organization,” said Light Factory Board Chair Jeff Wise.

“We have been going through a strategic planning process to determine the best operating model for the organization, but the reality is that we just didn’t have the cash flow necessary to keep the operations going while we evaluate our options and determine a viable, sustainable solution.”

 "The Light Factory’s board of directors is working proactively to find solutions to the financial challenges, including possible mergers or partnerships with other organizations. “Our hope is to find a solution that will allow The Light Factory’s mission to continue,” said Wise"

This is a significant crisis for the Southern photography community.

The Light Factory has been a major component of the revitalization of downtown (well, they call it "Uptown," but let that pass) Charlotte since its founding in 1972.

Charlotte has made serious commitments to developing its downtown as an arts center in the past few years, including new buildings for the Mint Museum and the Bectler Museum of Modern Art.

But The Light Factory was there first, as a pioneer, and as a statement about how a facility that combines the work of a museum and a school can nurture creativity and energy vital to urban life.

This crisis in its history obviously reflects broader trends in funding support for the arts, but locally it's hard to imagine Charlotte without the Light Factory.

The good news is that older members have rallied in support, and plans are developing for a return for the The Light Factory to an older model for its operation, a return to a volunteer-led, grassroots organization.

There will be elections for new members of the board of directors, redefinition of mission, new models for staffing, etc, but the future of the really splendid space in Charlotte's Spirit Square for exhibitions, classes, and the general nurture of the photography community in Charlotte still seems to be in doubt.

 Stay tuned for more developments.

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