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Darren models for SA
BKLYN, NY 11201

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A Message from Marisa

Marisa Portrait
As I reflect on the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday, I recognize how grateful I am to  all of you - SA's  students, staff, board, volunteers, and supporters - who have become my family. SA has always been a special place because of the people. Thank you for your participation, your support, and your daily inspiration.

Although it was a difficult conversation to have at last night's Community Meeting, I'm glad we had a chance to discuss, in person, the future of Starting Artists. For those who were unable to attend, I'd like to recap our conversation.

Starting Artists will not be providing services during spring 2011. The three main factors are the following:

1. Our lease is up at the end of this calendar year and we do not have a new space to move into. We have been looking for several months for opportunities to collaborate or partner with other organizations and for low cost or donated spaces but nothing has worked out yet.

2. We have not met our fundraising or earned income goals for this fiscal year. While we appreciate the generosity of our individual donors and funders including Starbucks, the Gannett Foundation, the Norman Foundation, the Department of Cultural Affairs, and State Senator Squadron, many of our funders have been forced to cut grant amounts in half. Implementing the sliding scale fees has not made up for the lost funding.

3. I am transitioning out of the organization and we have not yet found a new Executive Director. As I announced last night, I am joining the Peace Corps with my husband Paul. Together, we will serve as volunteers for over 2 years in Central or South America beginning in the summer of 2011. The board and staff has been working to bring Starting Artists to a place where I would be able to pass the torch on to a new ED. Unfortunately, we have not only not found the right candidate but we have not met our benchmarks in order to continue programming to pass on.

Without a new space, a new director, and new funding sources the organization cannot continue to provide the high-quality, hands-on instruction that is the hallmark of our Afterschool Program and Vacation Arts Intensives.

SA's board has voted to put the organization on hiatus until a suitable space, a new director, and additional funds have been secured. As of this point in time, SA is not dissolving and will remain a legal entity with all of the existing benefits of a nonprofit organization with the hopes that some day in the future we can reopen.

While this news saddens all of us in the Starting Artists family, I want you all to know how very proud I am of the work that we have done over the past 5 years together. These have been some of the most rewarding years of my life as I have seen SA participants grow into successful artists, entrepreneurs, and leaders.

We will continue to keep you all posted with any news we have. The website, Flickr site, and Facebook page will continue to operate and I will continue to be available to offer advice, write recommendation letters, and to connect families and students to resources in the New Year. We will be sending out a list of  other programs and resources after the Thanksgiving holiday. Please email me or Lacey with any questions or concerns.

Despite this unfortunate news I hope that you and your family have a very Happy Thanksgiving.