(Editor’s note: Fund for the Arts leaders sanctioned Director and CEO Allan Cowen after Cowen left a voice mail for Shannon Westermen suggesting that he intended to get Westerman fired. Cowen was angry about a letter Westerman, director of the Louisville Visual Arts Association, wrote to Business First with three others, a letter critical of the Fund for the Arts.)
As a long-standing members of the arts community, we are sorry to see the dust up between two vital participants and their respective organizations.
LVAA director Shannon Westerman has breathed new life into Louisville’s oldest arts nonprofit.
Fund for the Arts Director and CEO Allan Cowen has done a remarkably good job raising funds and putting Louisville in the forefront of giving to the arts.
Although there is never a good time for conflict, we are hopeful that the Board of The Fund will use this difficult time to reorganize the way it does business.
These are some questions we hope they will answer:
1) Looking at the Funds published budget for 2010 found on their web site, there is nearly $ 5 million listed as Undesignated Allocations, with similar amounts for each of the previous years. What is this money being used for?
2) When individuals and groups give to the fund they think that they are giving to all of the arts in Louisville, but most people are shocked to find out that all of the visual arts together receive only $203,749, which is 1.44 percent of the total budget. Is this a fair distribution of the limited art funding?
3) Although Mr. Cowen is terrific at raising money for the arts, he is quite autocratic about how he distributes it, as if the money was his and he knows what is best for each of the arts organizations. We are hopeful that the Board will use this as an opportunity to come up with a new system for allocating funds, leaving Mr. Cowen to do what he does best. Could a new system be developed to be more transparent and inclusive of the whole arts community?
We would like to remind everyone that it is important not only to give to the Fund for the Arts but also one should become a member of the other arts organizations that are important to the fabric of our community.
Kaviar Forge & Gallery
Dennis J Shaffner
Suzanne Enriqueez Dougherty
Kathleen Cooney Welin