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November 16, 2018

2/22/2018 7:29:00 PM
Questioning MoNA leadership and plans
A resigned board member's view

By Steve Klein
Regarding MoNA’s stakeholder meetings and three options presented, it is terribly sad how management and board leadership is portraying the current situation and possible solutions. While these meetings may produce good information, this information should have been gathered years ago. Does management have an underlying motive?
Having orchestrated meetings with a selected audience and limited questions is typical of the necessity to control and the lack of transparency management and board leadership has demonstrated. To talk about the lack of fundraising in the last decade is to point the finger right back to the executive director. Let’s face it, the executive director has been there for five years: Half of that decade.
How many significant donors have we lost? Why were they lost? I would suggest a major reason is lack of attention and gratitude from the executive director. Also, the lack of a sincere and cohesive plan to keep our donors interested with continued support.
Looking at the options presented, I’m extremely disappointed. First, Option 3 is absurd. Forget it! I see Option 1 as a precursor to Option 2, if Option 2 would even be a future consideration. Option 2 is loose and completely lacks any reasonable or practical thought. Our mission statement is very clear, “The Museum of Northwest Art connects people with the art, diverse cultures and environments of the Northwest”. Nowhere does the mission statement say that MoNA needs to relentlessly pursue being bigger, better or larger at the expense of quality, consistency and clarity. One only needs to read Clair Swedbergs book, “In the Valley of the Mystic Light” to further understand why MoNA belongs in La Conner. So, why is management and board leadership looking at quantity as opposed to quality?
Speaking about quality, MoNA had an incredible Curator in Kathleen Moles. She knows our region, the entire northwest and the relevance of showing this work in a respectful and educational way. Do you really think she left to pursue other employment, in the midst of curating new major exhibits and raising funds for those exhibits? Do you really think our dedicated Development Director Liz Theaker got up in the middle of a finance meeting and quit to pursue other opportunities?
In 2016 the board unanimously approved a strategic plan. However, boards are advisory and supportive. Management has failed to implement that plan.
Again, I’m saddened and disappointed in the directions being considered. Now is the time to focus on fund raising, not on plans, meetings, analysis, graphs, etc. MoNA was poorly managed into this situation. New management and board leadership is necessary to manage MoNA out of this dire financial situation, build our donor base and get back to our real purpose.
[The three options MoNA’s board and management are considering are, briefly: 1. Maintain MoNA “as is” – fix the roof, siding, and replace the mechanical (HVAC) systems to protect the gallery’s holdings; 2. Expand MoNA – develop a facility that represents the community’s vision; and 3. Close or revise MoNA, sell or reduce space occupied in the current building, and donate or share the collection with the Tacoma Art Museum or possibly other entities whom have expressed an interest. – Editor]
Steve Klein, an artist creating kiln-formed glass sculpture, was on the MoNA board of directors from 2012 until his resignation in December. He lives and works in greater La Conner.

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