We don’t usually post articles, but this one really got to us. We have bben posting notices about Baltimore Clayworks since our founding in 2010. This situation is painful to the Clayworks staff, board and to the people who loved Clayworks and studied there. We will miss them.
Dear Clayworks Patrons & Supporters,
The loss of the sale of our buildings created a complex and delicate situation. Toward the end of last week, the board was told that the "Community Campaign's" accrued funds came with a variety of restrictions in order to be disbursed. While the administration of that group worked hard to release some of that now, and potentially more later, it was not enough, nor in enough time, to stave off bankruptcy. An infusion of an immediate $200,000 would have allowed us to file for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, giving us time to continue operations and restructure, to continue to seek a buyer for our property(ies), to work with the steering committee, and, potentially, to survive. Without it, and with many creditors, now being insolvent, we are facing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy this week.
Again, all of this is deeply regrettable. The board presented the Board of Public Works (BPW) with a detailed three-year organizational and financial plan that would have meant a very similar Clayworks in a new location. We had public and private grants that were pending the sale. We were prepared to develop new sources of revenue. We had identified three locations suitable to Clayworks' needs. We were ready to embrace new audiences as well.
The very public nature of the opposition to locating anywhere but Mount Washington caused delays with the BPW, and the state treasurer's, comptroller's and governor's offices to approve the sale of the buildings. That was in spite of recent support from political leaders and arts community leaders, including Fred Lazarus, who had recently written to BPW in support of the board's efforts to sell the properties.
Our former buyer, another nonprofit, would have made a wonderful addition to the Mount Washington Merchants and Community Associations. The contract would have allowed for a more than reasonable transfer to a new location. Unfortunately, because of all those delays and uncertainty, they had little choice but to purchase another property.
The board deeply regrets the outcome for artists, students, kids who were to attend summer camps/parents who have to rearrange work, staff and teachers who are out of jobs, and even some staff who are still assisting and working for the organization though they may not be paid for weeks or months. We are also hopeful we can find a new "home" for the Community Arts program, and are actively engaging with possible organizations that could administrate it.
Over the past few days, the board became aware of threats to personnel and property as we volunteered to facilitate an orderly schedule for pick up of personal property. That has left us with no choice but to secure the buildings until further notice, very likely until a bankruptcy-court appointed trustee can manage the situation.
I'm sharing this with you so that you understand the complexity and sensitivity of the situation. We understand the impact this will have on the larger arts community. It is exceedingly painful to those that Clayworks has served. We are all grief-stricken with the result.
Board President | Baltimore Clayworks