Newspace Center for Photography, the fifteen-year-old nonprofit in Portland, Oregon, permanently closed its doors on July 7, The Oregonian reports. News of the organization’s financial struggles came as a surprise to many of its supporters.
The center held a community meeting on July 10 to explain to the public its reasons for closing. Andrew Kaiser, a photography center donor and volunteer who attended the meeting, wrote on Facebook that he left the gathering with “far more questions than answers.” He said that the board members blamed a national trend toward lower-class enrollments and a decrease in donations as the reasons for the arts space’s financial difficulties and also claimed that the worsening financial situation “hit them out of nowhere.” His frustrations were echoed by other members of the community who wondered why the public wasn’t informed or engaged to help raise funds.
Board member Bob Hestand said, “We’re unable to fulfill our mission. Our expenses were outpacing our revenue.” Treasurer Steve G. Stegeman said that they ran out of money and that their debt to creditors and grant-giving organizations amounts to around $115,000. He added that the center, which was known for its monthly exhibition program and for its classes, workshops, and public discussions, had considered long-term solutions such as merging with other organizations and even hired a director of development, but that they ultimately did not have enough time to save the organization.