A nonprofit organization promoting art in Beaufort has changed again.
The Beaufort Arts Council will discontinue art classes and operating its art gallery downtown, according to a news release last month. The organization had only recently moved into a new location on Port Republic Street and started the classes a year ago.
Board chairman Dick Stewart said the Arts Council will use the former Mather Library on the campus Technical College of the Lowcountry. Stewart said he was unable to continue funding the Arts Council’s salaried positions — director Kim Sullivan and staff member Ali Rachelle are no longer with the organization.
Future programs have yet to be determined.
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“That will be a decision for the board to make in the future,” Stewart said.
Stewart will remain on the board but said two new co-chairs will be selected. The board will select those positions at the beginning of the year.
The Arts Council plans to partner with other organizations to support artists and education, a news release said. The organization plans to continue to promote local art through grants and marketing materials.
The Beaux Arts Ball, ArtPop Beaufort program and a plan for public art projects are also expected to continue.
The board will decide in 2017 how best to use the TCL facility, board member and artist Diane Britton Dunham said. Working to secure grants for artists and galleries will be part of the focus moving forward, but there could also be an educational component and the opportunity to offer artists studio space, she said.
“We’re really excited to offer grants to artists so artists can further realize their visions and dreams,” Britton Dunham said. “We’ve always been committed to the artists in the community.
The Beaufort community is really rich in (artists). There’s a lot of creative geniuses running around here.”
The Arts Council and its art school, the Mather Academy, moved to Port Republic Street from Boundary Street in April. The art classes started in October 2015.
Sullivan was hired as executive director in August 2015 to help the Arts Council expand its offerings to include the classes. She was tasked with recruiting area artists to lead the classes, designing curriculum and finding donors to fund courses and scholarships, The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet reported last year.
Sullivan was brought on after the previous managing director was fired, a move then-board president Stewart indicated was necessary as the organization’s mission changed to focus more on education.
But Sullivan was let go along with staff member Rachelle after the organization’s strategic committee decided in late November to close the school and gallery.
A phone message for Sullivan wasn’t returned Monday.
Stewart said the Arts Council was expecting revenue from the implementation of an arts district and housing initiative downtown. The effort didn’t come together soon enough, he said.
“We’re still optimistic that will happen,” Stewart said. “We just don’t know when.”
Beaufort endorsed a downtown arts district in April. The proposal includes plans for small buildings to use as homes or studios for artists as accessories to existing homes.
The city plans to change rules for home businesses in downtown’s Northwest Quadrant neighborhood to allow artists to work from their homes and to display artwork and signs outside. A regional planning panel said the city should wait and incorporate the changes into its new code.
But Beaufort officials are moving forward updating the current ordinance. A public hearing on the changes is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 1911 Boundary St.
In August, the Arts Council and Mather Academy announced it had purchased the old Beaufort County jailhouse on King Street in downtown Beaufort for art classes, a gallery and event space.
Those plans hinge on obtaining funding, Stewart said.