Business of Art Center executive director Natalie Johnson has a busy week ahead of her. After all, less than two months into her official tenure as ED there, she's dealing with catastrophic water damage caused by an unknown individual or group who entered Venue 515, stopped the sinks and drains, and turned on the faucets.
The next morning, her employees and renters found their offices in varying degrees of disrepair. BAC event coordinator Jana Rush arrived to an inch of standing water in her office.
Today, she's planned to be on the phone, coordinating with banks and insurance companies. Tomorrow, she'll meet with an art appraiser and restorer, to learn the extent of the damage on several significant pieces of art (worth over $10,000 apiece) as well as the numerous other works that were also harmed by the water. Wednesday, Johnson will attend an emergency board meeting to discuss what the grand reopening of Venue 515 will look like, and if they can throw in some improvements while Murphy Constructors (which which did the building’s restoration years ago, and whose leader, Chuck Murphy, resides on the BAC's board) does repairs.
“I think we’re recognizing that we might have the opportunity to sort of emerge bigger and better and stronger if we are strategic about the time that we have,” she says.
According to an email blast sent today, they’re planning on a “new and improved Gift Gallery” and “coffee/soup/tea bar/café” both slated for Sept. 1. What's more is that Johnson says that construction is moving swiftly, and that perhaps Venue 515 could reopen in three to four weeks, far ahead of an initial schedule of six weeks.
Luckily, insurance should cover most of the estimated $100,000 worth of damage, but the BAC will still face steep ancillary costs.
“I would say that in order for us to sort of hang in there, we’d be looking at needing to come up with something in the neighborhood of about $10,000, which again is a tricky number. It’s not a ton, but it’s a lot,” Johnson says.
Here's what you can do:
Buy or renew a BAC membership. Johnson says this is a fantastic way to help the organization, since it's a long-term investment. Last week, at an impromptu "Group Hug" it hosted, the BAC netted 30 new memberships and 15 renewals.
Attend the J. Miller Band concert happening at 7 p.m., this Thursday, Aug. 23, at Stargazers Theatre & Event Center. The formerly free affair will now collect donations of any amount to help.
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