Ix Art Park in Charlottesville is pausing some operations due to a lack of funding.
But the future of the park is not in jeopardy, according to Susan Krischel.
“What it really means is yet to be determined,” Kirschel, president of the Ix Art Park Foundation’s board, told The Daily Progress. “We just found out that operating expenses had gotten too massive for the income it was bringing in so we need a reset to determine how we can bring the exciting things people love about Ix but do it in a sustainable way.”
Those expenses included rent, insurance, supplies and salaries.
“Everything became more expensive after COVID,” Kirschel said. “But I’d say salaries was one of the big hits.”
The park had five full-time employees in addition to many part-time workers. The five full-time employees are no longer being paid, and the part-time workers will be expected to take over their workload to keep the park functioning. The park may only hire part-time employees from now on to save money.
According to Kirschel, all events currently scheduled at the park for the rest of the year will remain on the schedule. But some private events have been canceled, and Looking Glass, billed as Virginia’s first immersive art experience, will be limited to Saturdays and Sundays. The farmers market at the park on Saturdays will not be affected.
“Most of this is still remnants of COVID,” she said.
The Ix Art Park Foundation became a nonprofit organization six months before the pandemic. Looking Glass opened six weeks before.
“So between the difficulty of COVID and operating expenses, it became too much of a burden under our current model. We need to come up with a new model that makes more sense financially,” she said.
That financial model was hurt in part because, according to Kirschel, donors were less willing to make donations during the pandemic.
“It was difficult because not only were we trying to keep employees fully employed during COVID, but also as a new nonprofit we didn’t have an existing established donor base,” she said. “For other donors it became an insecure time for them financially, so they were not able to be as philanthropic as they might’ve otherwise been.”
While quick to dismiss the possibility that the park’s long-term future is in trouble, Kirschel did say that the park likely needs to be more focused.
“It was always trying to be everything to everybody and sometimes you have to make decision about what is a strength and what is a weakness,” she said. “We need to focus and not spend as much time on things that are not as important.”