Saturday, June 07, 2008

Update: URI arts cuts

From my Friday report at the Providence Phoenix:
On Tuesday, the University of Rhode Island informed Judith Tolnick Champa, who runs the URI Fine Arts Center Galleries, and Roxana Tourigny, who runs the school’s “Great Performances” program, that they will be laid off, effective July 4, and that the galleries and performance program will close.

The decision came suddenly and sent shock waves through the state’s art community. Vesela Sretenovic, a friend of Tolnick Champa and a curator at Brown University’s Bell Gallery, says, “It was such a surprise. It was hard to react. People are still in disbelief.”

A Facebook group “Save the Galleries!!” was set up Wednesday morning by URI photo instructor Zoey Stites to protest the cuts, and by 3 PM Thursday the group listed 100 members, with more continuing to sign up. Tolnick Champa is organizing a public meeting at the university’s main gallery at 4 PM on Tuesday, June 10, to brainstorm “about the galleries at URI and supporting the arts in general.”

“I felt something was coming,” she says. “I know I’m not immune to the financial crisis at my university. I thought they would tell me my budget was slashed. I was called in and told the galleries are done and my job is done, and it’s not a question of quality, it’s a budget question.” She has worked at URI for 17 years.
Read the rest here.

The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research broke the story on Wednesday with this brief.


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