Trying to answer your questions:
Supporters of Baltimore Clayworks — including students, artists, former trustees, teachers, (now unemployed) staff, and friends — gathered Saturday at the Randallstown library to talk about the closing, the announced bankruptcy filing, and what might happen in the future.
We greatly appreciate the information that Clayworks Community Campaign attorney Douglas Silber shared. Also, we very much appreciate Delegate’s Bilal Ali’s continued interest and support by sending his Chief of Staff, and that Sascha Smith joined us.
A few questions and answers for others who did not attend will follow. Please remember that we can only discuss what we know, and hope this information will be helpful.
What’s happening right now? Is Baltimore Clayworks in “bankruptcy”?
The Board of Trustees has voted to file for bankruptcy, but as of yet (Monday, July 24), papers have not been filed. The organization has laid off all employees, cancelled all programs, and closed the doors of the buildings it controls. (Board member Mary Blair organized access hours last weekend for the removal of personal property.) According to statements, the organization has no money in its accounts.
The Clayworks Community Campaign has proposed to lend monies for payment of bank debt service, insurance premiums and other pressing monthly bills to allow time for further discussions. The Board has thus far declined.
What happens next in bankruptcy?
A bankruptcy trustee will be appointed. After some weeks of research, the bankruptcy trustee will organize a meeting of creditors and will discuss his/her understanding of the situation and explain what is likely to occur in the weeks and months ahead. The bankruptcy trustee’s responsibility is to facilitate payments to the creditors. This usually means selling assets to generate the monies.
At some point, there will be new “owners” of the assets. There are many possibilities in that regard. It is certain that the organizers of the Clayworks Community Campaign intend to work with the broad community of supporters to pursue purchasing or leasing the facilities to continue the same mission as the former Baltimore Clayworks, Inc.
There is much to learn as this process moves forward. The Community Campaign will stay in close communication so we can work together to accomplish our goals.
Am I a creditor? What do I do next?
Most of us in the room Saturday are creditors. We paid for classes or studio rentals that are not being delivered, so refunds are due. Others are teachers who have not been paid. Many artists are due payments for work that was sold through Baltimore Clayworks (in the gallery, shop, and at other events). Still more know of organizations and donors who funded programs which have not been delivered, and are now cancelled.
What is recommended is that you assemble your records relating to your “claim.” That means receipts or transaction reports, cancelled checks or credit card statements, email receipts or messages detailing your “purchases,” pay stubs, rental agreements, inventory records, etc. Make and keep a folder with copies of all these materials. We will share with you what we learn about formally making your claim, so that the bankruptcy trustee receives the information to process the claim and pursue payment to you.
What will happen with all the Studio Building equipment?
Again, those are assets of the bankruptcy estate. The bankruptcy trustee will evaluate and determine what will happen. We will keep you informed.
What should former employees do?
Apply for unemployment as soon as possible. Here is the link to the online application: https://www.dllr.state.md.us/employment/uibenefits.shtml.
Who knows of programs, studio space or classes available now?
We are assembling information and will post it on our website and Facebook page. Many arts programs and individuals have reached out to welcome us. That’s what “clay people” do.
Will we get together again?
Yes. We will call a meeting as soon as we know more. We need to stay connected and in touch. Some folks plan to organize social events as well. If you wish to join our email list (now at 800+), please email email@example.com.