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Sequim Arts group severs partnership with museum


Sequim Arts recently made the decision to discontinue its relationship with the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.

 

The reason, according to Sequim Arts president Linda Stadtmiller, is the group’s frayed relationship with DJ Bassett, executive director of the MAC. Stadtmiller said Bassett has refused to share earnings from Sequim Arts’ Juried Art Show, which was held during the Sequim Irrigation Festival in the MAC’s exhibit hall.

 

“Basically, DJ has been very strange with us,” Stadtmiller said. “He’s been harassing us in bits and pieces and it finally kicked in at the juried show. We don’t have a contract with them but in the past we’ve had a 50/50 commission from them (estimated at about $1,000). He refused to share that.”

 

In July, Sherry Nagel, co-chairman of the juried show, said she tried to deliver a letter to Bassett thanking the MAC for hosting the event and requesting the funds but he refused to accept the letter.

Bassett said he told Nagel there was no prior agreement for this.

 

“Our Art Exhibits Committee, which included a member of the Sequim Arts Board, was not aware of any
commission split agreement, nor was the MAC. Sequim Arts was told at that time that there would be no commission split,” he said. “Subsequently, our board president met with the Sequim Arts board president regarding this matter and, even upon direct request for said contract, no contract was ever produced.”

In previous discussions with the museum, Nagel said Sequim Arts was told it didn’t need a contract because it’s a regular participant.

 

She said it hasn’t been a problem with previous shows.

 

MAC treasurer John Beitzel, who joined the board this year, said to his knowledge there isn’t a written agreement or document but this particular issue hasn’t come before the board.

 

Taking the MAC to task

In September, Stadtmiller sent another letter to MAC board president Gideon Cauffman, stating Sequim Arts was breaking its ties for its 2013 Small Works Show, 2014 Student show and 2014 Sequim Arts Juried Show.

 

In her letter, Stadtmiller didn’t pull any punches, saying, “The Sequim Arts Board was appalled at your director’s refusal to pay us our share of the proceeds of the annual Sequim Arts Juried art show which has been an event hosted by the Museum & Arts center for several years. DJ Basset’s rude and arrogant refusal to accept a hand-delivered letter requesting payment of the monies owed to us and thanking the Museum & Arts Center for hosting the show demonstrated his complete lack of respect for Sequim Arts.”

“Since we have had no communication from your board we can only surmise that you approve of the behavior of your director.”

 

Stadtmiller has since said the student show, which the MAC has hosted for 19 years, will move to the Landing in Port Angeles. She said the show, which hosts art from middle and high school students countywide, has been a popular draw.

 

On the other hand

Bassett responded to an inquiry from the Gazette, saying “the MAC charges a 25 percent commission on artwork sold at any of our shows. This goes toward the expense of the operation of our Exhibit Center during that time. Expenses include staff, utilities, security, credit card charges, bookkeeping etc. This charge offsets our cost for these events.”

 

“We respect Sequim Arts’ decision to exhibit wherever it chooses,” Bassett said. “We all have to find our way as nonprofits. Perhaps this is what Sequim Arts needs to grow and we wish the organization well in its future endeavors. We continue to have good, healthy working relationships with numerous arts groups and individual artists in the community. The MAC remains an open and friendly venue for local artists.”

Cauffman was unavailable for comment.

 

Stadtmiller, also a former MAC board member, said she announced the split at Sequim Arts’ September meeting.

 

Stadtmiller said any reconciliation would have to begin with the MAC board.

 

“We haven’t had a response from the board,” she said. “We’d be willing to sit down and talk to the board. Had they come to us early in the year, then maybe.”

 

Bassett has served as interim director of MAC since late 2010 and as permanent executive director since January 2011.

 

Read Sequim Arts’ letters below.

 

 

Letter one:

July 8, 2013

DJ Bassett
Director, Museum of Arts
544 N. Sequim Ave.
Sequim, WA 98382

RE: Proceeds Split from Sequim Arts International Juried Show

Hello DJ:

I am sure that you will agree that this year’s Sequim Arts International Juried Show was a success. The artwork this year was exceptional and varied. The jurist did a magnificent job of creating a well-rounded show. I heard many favorable comments from the public during the First Friday Walk.

I wish to thank the museum, you, Steph and the docents for their great efforts in making this year’s show a success. As a result, I think that we can all be proud of the show, our partnership, and in the revenue brought in through art sales. According to our records, provided by Steph, (copy attached) the show sold $2,005 in art sales. As per our agreement, this is to be split 50/50 with Sequim Arts. I would appreciate if you could have our check expedited for us.

It was a pleasure doing business with you, your staff and the museum. We partner well.
Regards,

Sherry K. Nagel
Juried Show 2013 co-chair
Sequim Arts
PO Box 1842
Sequim, WA 98382

 

Letter two:

September 19, 2013

Board of Trustees of the Museum and Arts Center
In The Sequim-Dungeness Valley

c/o Gideon Cauffman, Board President
Cultural Resources Specialist
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe
1033 Old Blyn Highway
Sequim, WA 98382


Dear Mr. Cauffman and the Board of Trustees of the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley,
It has been some time since our president Linda Stadtmiller spoke to Mr. Cauffman regarding the problems we had with the Juried show. We have heard no reply to our inquiry or explanation as to why this event occurred in the manner in which it did. The Sequim Arts Board was appalled at your Director’s refusal to pay us our share of the proceeds of the annual Sequim Arts Juried art show which has been an event hosted by the Museum & Arts center for several years.  D. J. Basset’s rude and arrogant refusal to accept a hand delivered letter requesting payment of the monies owed to us and thanking the Museum & Arts Center for hosting the show demonstrated his complete lack of respect for Sequim Arts. We had no notification of any changes in policy and had no reason to believe that the proceeds would not be split as it had been in all the past shows.
Since we have had no communication from your board we can only surmise that you approve of the behavior of your director. We do understand that there is from time to time a need to change policies and procedures but there is a professional way to go about these changes and informing others of any changes. Both the Museum & Arts Center’s director and the board of trustees appear to lack that skill.  Consequently the


Sequim Arts board feels that the Museum and Arts Center no longer represents the values and professionalism it did in the past and that the reputation of our organization would be hurt by being associated with you.
On July 25th we voted unanimously to break all ties with MAC if this matter was not resolved in a reasonable amount of time.  We waited to hear some reply to our query but as there has been no reply we feel that we must inform you that our 2013 Small Works Show, our 2014 Student show (which has been hosted by the MAC for 19 years) and our 2014 Sequim Arts Juried Show will be hosted by other venues. This was not an easy choice for us because in the past we had a good working relationship and we could have had the potential to build on this partnership however the best venue in the world does not make up for bad management.
Since we have an obligation to our members we will announce this publicly to our membership with a complete explanation at our September meeting.

Sincerely,
Sequim Arts Board Members:President, Linda Stadtmiller1st Vice President, Bob Lee2nd Vice President, Maryann Proctor Treasurer, Marilyn Hooser    Secretary, Catherine Mix
Members at Large:       
LeRoy Beers
Pat Oden
Randy Radock
Beth Ford
Pam Dick
Nancy Hoffman

 


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