July 16, 2014

Dear CCA Students, Friends and Supporters,

It is with great sadness that we inform you that the CCA has ceased operations and closed the building due to financial hardship effective immediately. All camps and lessons are suspended due to an inability to make staff and instructor payroll. We are unable to grant tuition refunds due to lack of funds. Those of you currently enrolled in the summer term have likely heard this news from your instructors. We want you to hear from us, too.

The CCA is a community organization run by a small professional staff and a volunteer board. In this community that places such high value on the arts and arts education, the CCA has had an impressive 20-year history. During that time, top notch instructors found their way to our center. Students and the community benefited from fantastic programming.

If heart, passion and talent were enough to keep this organization afloat, we would not have to take these very difficult steps. As with most non-profits, some operating funds were generated through fees, but the bulk of the necessary operating expenses came from donations within the community and grants. With the increasingly difficult economic realities of recent years, those community donations and grants have become scarce.  This scarcity has resulted in an increasingly precarious financial picture for the CCA.

For the past several months, we have been sounding the alarm- making our case for the importance of the work being done at the CCA and asking for support. In our community, those who are in a position to give gave generously, but there are many organizations competing for those resources. A strong, small group of loyal supporters have done all they can to keep the CCA afloat. It simply wasn’t enough.

After scraping by for several months, we finally reached the tipping point. We take this action as a last resort only after exhausting all other options.  We can assure you that no one involved in this process has surrendered easily. Unfortunately, this is all too common of a story for non-profits in our area.

The closing of a non-profit center with a 20-year history is a process. It will take time. We are committed to going through this process with transparency and integrity. At this point, our priority is speaking with all of the major stakeholders and working out the financial details. As a testament to the quality of our professional instructors, they are all reaching out to their students and actively working out alternative means of continuing their work. Many are completing the summer term without pay in order to uphold commitments made to CCA students and families.

We are moved, but not surprised, by their integrity and will be working with them throughout this process to do all we can to honor their long commitment to this organization. Most of the instructors have stated their intention to continue their teaching studios and will use the remaining summer to work out those details.

For 20 years, the CCA has been a hub of creative energy and engaged learning in Chelsea. As we move through this painful loss, we are hopeful that in time there will be a new and improved avenue for this sort of artistic energy in our town.


Chelsea Center for the Arts Board of Directors