Carnegie Arts Center Delivers First Annual Report to Council; No Mention of Security Deposit

David Fransen

An overdue, long-anticipated annual report on the first year of Turlock’s new Carnegie Arts Center came and went with little comment from Turlock City Councilmembers.

The report, required by the Carnegie Arts Foundation’s lease agreement with the City of Turlock, was expected in September. But the presentation was delayed due to both a busy Turlock City Council fall calendar and pressing matters at the Carnegie, including a major exhibition of the works of Edgar Degas which opened in October.

According to Rebecca Phillips Abbott, Director and Curator of the Carnegie Arts Center, the first year was a major success.

“These numbers speak for themselves,” Abbott said.

Highlighted by exhibitions of Degas and Ansel Adams, as well as shows of works from noted local artists, approximately 15,000 visitors came to the revitalized Carnegie in its first year. Nearly 4,000 local school children participated in school tours, including every fourth grader in the Turlock Unified School District.

Family Friday programs drew more children for things like pajama parties, campfire songs, and art and craft nights. Sunday art lectures drew older crowds to hear from artists, dancers, and even Ansel Adams’ son. In total, 3,323 people participated in Carnegie programs.

Poetry readings, dance and theater performances, and concerts also packed the Carnegie. And 125 volunteers, forming a “volunteer guild” worked 5,465 hours to keep the Carnegie going, all with no pay.

About 500 Carnegie Arts Center members contributed to the center, raising $65,000. In total, $765,111 was earned in in the Carnegie’s first 15 months, with $446,414 in expenses.

The Carnegie ultimately lost $10,000 on paper last year, though, as much of the Carnegie’s income is tied up in its endowment fund, and unavailable for day-to-day operations.

A lack of funding for those daily activities drove the Carnegie board to contact the City of Turlock in May 2012, in hopes of getting a then-$100,000 security deposit returned just months after the arts center’s September 2011 opening.

Councilmembers Amy Bublak and Bill DeHart had concerns with the refund at the time, stating that they would be comfortable returning a portion of the deposit only after hearing the annual report. In a compromise, $20,000 was returned in May 2012. The remaining $80,000 was expected to hinge on Tuesday’s annual report, but no mention was made of the deposit.

The only member of council to comment on the report Tuesday was Mayor John Lazar, long an ardent supporter of the Carnegie. Lazar’s wife, Nellie Lazar, sits on the Carnegie Arts Center board.

“Arts equals jobs to a community,” John Lazar said. “It’s an economic engine. It makes our community vibrant.

“I am so proud and tickled that we have the Carnegie Arts Center.”

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