Richmond Confidential: Richmond Art Center recovering after losing major donor: ‘We are in the black now, not red.’
Richmond Art Center recovering after losing major donor: ‘We are in the black now, not red.’
Sophia Sun on January 16, 2024
When the Richmond Art Center lost its biggest donor last year, Executive Director José Rivera said he was worried about the future.
“Over many years, that donor contributed $100,00 annually, making him the most significant benefactor in the center’s history when considering the cumulative sum of his contribution over time,” he said. “We lost him since last year he closed out his foundation.”
For a while, it wasn’t clear how the RAC would make up that shortfall.
But things are looking brighter.
So far, the center has raised more than one-third of the $300,000 it needs to cover registration fees and tuition for 2024. In addition, it met its $30,000 scholarship goal.
The scholarships, Rivera said, allow the center to offer art classes, which attract newcomers and grow the membership. They also make classes accessible to people who could not afford to pay $40 to $50 per session.
“We are in the black now, not red,” said Rivera, who attributes the turnaround to several factors that have increased revenue and donations.
The RAC has been holding more exhibitions and partnering more with sister museums to raise visibility and draw crowds from outside of Richmond. In 2022, for example, it partnered with the SFMOMA on the exhibition “Emmy Lou Packard — Artist of Conscience.”
“We also have a good amount of returning students who want to continue taking art classes after their first quarter,” said Elaine Moreno, the center’s visitor services coordinator. “A lot of students feel comfortable and love the space, so they return, and some even take multiple classes at a time.”
In addition to classes, the center holds events in community gathering spaces like the farmers market, flea markets, and schools. The community programs are free to the public. Some are funded through partnerships or grants, said Irene Conde, the center’s education director.
The center also recently hired Kimberly Ross as public programs coordinator Her goal is to help the center reach more people.
“My priority is to expand our reach and connect directly with the people of Richmond, making the Richmond Art Center and our offerings accessible to everyone,” she said. “As a Richmond native and artist, I can achieve this goal by tapping into my network to create opportunities for program collaboration with local organizations and businesses.”