Following is complete text of the letters to Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, to the members of the Board of Public Works (Governor Larry Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot, Treasurer Nancy Kopp), and to First Lady of Maryland Yumi Hogan.
Dear Mayor Pugh,
We are writing to ask for your help to save an important local treasure, Baltimore Clayworks.
It is possible that the proposed sale and move from Mount Washington could lead to the end of Baltimore Clayworks, an organization I care deeply for. Our fears are shared with hundreds, perhaps thousands of others in Baltimore, throughout Maryland, and across the country.
The Clayworks Community has done everything we can to persuade the Board of Trustees to work together to resolve financial problems and jointly design a sustainable future. We have presented options, raised funds, enlisted the support of arts, financial, non-profit, and other civic leaders. Fred Lazarus, president-emeritus of M.I.C.A. wrote an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun (“Baltimore needs a strong Clayworks”) urging reconsideration of the move idea. We also testified at a briefing in Annapolis on May 2 convened by Delegates Maggie McIntosh and Adrienne Jones, who both urged the Clayworks leadership to participate in meaningful discussions with our Campaign through the assistance and facilitation of the Maryland Nonprofits, Inc. Even that did not happen.
The sale is on the agenda for the July 5 Board of Public Works meeting. Baltimore Clayworks leadership has confirmed they have no clear plan for continuing operations or a new location; they will just figure it all out at some future time. This lack of a plan is reckless in our view. Our hope is to convey the serious concern and strong disapproval among the citizens of Baltimore were the proposed sale to be completed under these circumstances. The voice of Mayor Catherine Pugh is certain to be of prime importance in the matter. May we meet with you to enlist your help?
TO: Members of the Board of Public Works — Governor Larry Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot, Treasurer Nancy Kopp:
We write to you today to request your advance consideration of the issues involved in the sale of buildings by Baltimore Clayworks, Inc, which will be on the Board of Public Works’ Agenda for the July 5, 2017 meeting.
This transaction is contrary to the public interest of the taxpayers of the State of Maryland, and endangers the future existence of a treasured Baltimore arts organization of national renown. To avoid the serious risk of so damaging a loss, we urge that you investigate fully before taking any action.
The Clayworks Community Campaign (representing nearly 1,000 students, donors, members, artists and former teachers, as well as many hundreds of concerned local citizens) has done everything we can to persuade the Board of Trustees to work together to resolve financial problems and jointly design a sustainable future. We have presented options, raised funds, enlisted the support of arts, financial, non-profit, and other civic leaders. Fred Lazarus, president-emeritus of M.I.C.A. wrote an op-ed in the Sunpapers urging reconsideration of the sell-and-move idea.
We testified at a briefing convened by Delegates Maggie McIntosh and Adrienne Jones in Annapolis, who both urged the Clayworks leadership to participate in meaningful discussions with our Campaign through the assistance and facilitation of the Maryland Nonprofits, Inc. (MANO). Even that has not happened. Several delegates expressed concerns, and have joined us in urging delay and further investigation of relevant information before approval is considered.
There are many questions still unanswered by the Baltimore Clayworks leadership, an organization that has benefitted from hundreds of thousands of dollars in both capital and operating grants from the State of Maryland. A recently installed interim Executive Director, with little experience in such matters, has ignored advice from former experienced Clayworks leadership, and shepherded a rushed move to sell and relocate. Clayworks’ motives and reasoning, financial analysis and reporting, and detailed plans for operating the public programs without an identified home (to be assembled after the proposed sale of their State-funded campus) must be brought to light. Our Campaign has provided information to your office and is willing to provide additional assistance. We urge you to investigate these concerns, and ask that you withhold approval.
This is a life-and-death issue for Baltimore Clayworks. Please work with the public to ensure a more promising and fruitful future for all concerned.
Dear Mrs. Hogan,
We urge you, as an artist, teacher, and arts advocate, to support the Clayworks Community Campaign to rescue and revive Baltimore Clayworks. We know that you visited the Michi-Japanese/American ceramics show at Clayworks in January and bought several works. Since that time, the Board of Trustees has moved the organization in a very disturbing direction.
A proposed sale of Clayworks’ State-funded historic buildings in the Mount Washington neighborhood (our original home, since 1980) endangers the very existence of this treasured arts organization. The hasty sale, with no clear plans for operating a future location and continued operation, is strongly opposed by the large community of artists, students, teachers, trustees, donors and supporters who have built and nurtured this Maryland landmark to national prominence.
Sadly, those behind the proposed sale have failed to seek collaboration with or endorsement by the stakeholders, have attacked and alienated those who have offered objections or assistance, and have now submitted the sale for consideration by the Board of Public Works (on the July 5 agenda). There is serious concern that the sale will precipitate the decline and disappearance of Baltimore Clayworks, an loss that is much too great to justify the risk-filled sale-and-move “proposal.” We have urged that the BPW withhold approval and investigate these concerns.
Mrs. Hogan, your leadership in promoting the arts and arts education throughout your career are greatly appreciated and admired. Please step forward to support the Clayworks Community Campaign to rescue Baltimore Clayworks and preserve its contributions to our State for decades to come.
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