As you know, after the Board’s Feb. 3 email announcement and the Feb. 8 Community Meeting at Clayworks, we assembled an ad hoc “Steering Committee,” which has:
- presented some alternative ideas re the Studio Building to the Board;
- created a Petition to articulate the consensus of the community, calling for alternative measures to address the current crisis;
- attracted and published the names of over 750 signers to the Petition;
- engaged in several meetings with members of the Board and the Acting E.D. in an attempt to obtain more information and clarity;
- assembled records of Board and E.D. actions that have contributed to reaching this crisis stage;
- conversed with members of the Mount Washington community to inform them of the situation and engage their support;
- initiated planning of fund-raising and development efforts to rescue Baltimore Clayworks, including successful outreach to major donors who have already agreed to step up with six-figure contributions;
- made clear to the Board that these pledges are conditional upon the Board putting an end to the sale of the building;
- presented the Petition and reported the strength and size of the group that pledges to “do everything within its power to forestall, block or prevent a sale at this time”;
- delivered a list of questions to the Board on 3/16/17 requesting clarification of decisions and commitments they have made in the name of Baltimore Clayworks, Inc.
At the “open” session preceding the official Board meeting on 3/16, members informed us that the action of putting the buildings on the market for sale was a condition they agreed to in exchange for an emergency line of credit loan. They maintain that there were no other options for the emergency funding, and that without this loan, BCW would not have been able to meet obligations to keep operations going, and service existing loan agreements. According to Kathy Holt, the Board accepted the conditional terms of this loan by unanimous vote (with one abstention). Thereafter they proceeded to engage a real estate advisor, and to list the properties on the market. (Please note: this is a summary of what we understand from what members told us at the 3/16 meeting.)
The Board has chosen not to allow us access to further information (such as amounts, due dates, terms, loan documents), nor have they enabled our finance/fund-raising associates to join in meetings with the lender(s) to pursue alternatives. Although they have expressed willingness to “work with us” to generate emergency operations funds, the Acting E.D. has obstructed some of our preliminary plans, and reaffirmed that the Board “cannot” take the buildings off the market.
(A personal note from Marsha, who has been involved in most of the direct conversations: We first heard of the idea of a “move” and relocation of BCW in Kathy Holt’s February 3 email. She wrote, “We have come to realize that this plan would not only solve our fiscal issues, but would begin a new and exciting era for Clayworks.” Kathy and Mary Blair have since communicated their affection for this idea. I/we maintain that it is an idea that is fraught with obvious risks, and one that pursues a direction for BCW that has not been presented, vetted, researched or sold. Whatever we, they or you suspect would happen as a result of a move, none of us know that it is necessary or appropriate to pursue at this time.)
The Board has to date declined to provide feedback or answers to our questions presented on March 16, and is now questioning our legitimacy to represent “the community.”
We welcome your comments below, or on our Discussion page.
We are also planning an open meeting for the Clayworks Community Campaign for next Saturday or Sunday, at which time we will share further updates and discuss next steps. Details will be forthcoming soon. We hope you will be able to participate.
Thank you for your continued support, and your dedication to Baltimore Clayworks.