Rush Harding, a member of the board of the Arkansas Arts Center, has made a “six-figure” donation to help the Arts Center pay off its $1.34 million loan from the Arkansas Arts Center foundation.
The sum is what’s owed on two lines of credit extended to the Arts Center for the World of the Pharaohs exhibit, an exhibit that was supposed to be a revenue generator but sapped the Arts Center’s bottom line instead. The Arts Center owes the foundation another $960,000 for a previous line of credit. The foundation makes a yearly contribution to the Arts Center and owns its art collection.
Harding told fellow board members at their monthly meeting Monday that he made the gift in honor of Curt and Chucki Bradbury for their longtime support of the institution.
Harding said if the Arts Center had to make up its debt from its operating budget it would “dilute the quality of the programs the Arts Center could offer.” He added that while he thought the Pharaohs crisis was “outside the scope of the board’s control, when something didn’t work like you hoped it would it’s the board’s responsibility to deal with it.”
Interim Director Joseph Lampo told the board he and the foundation are discussing ways to address the debt. Today, he told me he couldn’t elaborate.
The board also learned Monday from its director of operations Laine Harber that employee 403(b) retirement plans had been created inappropriately, since the Arts Center is not a 401c3 non-profit but an entity created by city ordinance. He said he’s working to get the retirement plans into different accounts by the first of the year and that he was told that the penalty for creating the plans would be only around $1,000.