The Minnesota Center for Photography has discontinued operations, according to a statement on the organization’s website.
“Over the past six months we have unsuccessfully attempted to adjust our budget and, with your help, raise additional funds to pay down debt and fund continuing operations,” according to the announcement from the MCP staff and board of directors.
Jes Strom, a part-time MCP employee, said Wednesday she couldn’t discuss the financial problems that led to the shuttering of the 18-year-old center other than to say that the downturn in the economy had played a role. MCP’s 990 form on file with the state attorney general’s office listed income of nearly $679,000 and expenses of nearly $536,000 in 2006, but 2007 information was not available.
Strom said the board of directors voted Tuesday night to close the nonprofit MCP down.
Vickie Benson, arts program director for the McKnight Foundation, said McKnight had given MCP a grant of $30,000 for this year’s operating expenses, as well as funding for four MCP/McKnight Artist Fellowships for Photographers.
McKnight fellowships will be moved
McKnight had recently informed MCP that those fellowships would no longer be continued at the center, she said.
“When there was only one staff person [at MCP] recently, and as [MCP board chair] Mark [Wilson] has said, they weren’t able to keep up with the center’s expenses, we could not continue to place the fellowship program at MCP because of the current situation. So it’s not that we withdrew funding, it’s that we didn’t renew funding,” Benson said today.
“At a certain point, frankly, it doesn’t help an organization to place a program as large as a fellowship program when they don’t have funds to pay for anything else. That is what it seems has happened at MCP,” she said.
Benson emphasized that McKnight’s decision to discontinue the administration of photography fellowships through MCP did not in any way affect McKnight’s granting of day-to-day operating funds to MCP.
“We hadn’t had any conversations about general operating funds,” she said.
“It’s a sad day,” Benson said of the closing.
She made clear that McKnight’s four photography fellowships would be honored for this year and continued next year through another organization.
“We have every intention of supporting the artists who just received fellowships and they will have their exhibitions. We just don’t know where yet,” she said.
MCP moved to an 8,000-square-foot facility in Northeast Minneapolis from Uptown in 2004. The 500-member MCP got its start in a cramped space over a Minneapolis auto body parts shop; the group was then known as pARTS.
Over the years, MCP had acquired a reputation as an important showcase for local photographers.
Edina photographer Callie Clark-Wiren, who is both a MCP member and exhibitor, called the closing “very disappointing.”
“It’s just very sad to see them go, especially so suddenly,” she said.