Winter Semester Classes
On March 9, 2020, we closed our studio and stopped running classes due to the coronavirus. Children attending our Winter Semester still had 4-5 classes left. Due to our financial situation, we are unable to offer refunds or credits for those classes.
Our staff are working without pay to create art kits for students who were in the middle of a project. We will be delivering these kits to our students' homes over the next few weeks. We are also contacting parents and hoping to disburse any artwork we have in our studio that belongs to students.
Our Financial Situation
We have always had a tight budget with money coming at the beginning of a semester and going directly to pay teachers, rent, insurance, supplies, and other expenses with no surplus. When the coronavirus hit, we were almost at the end of a semester and had not begun collecting revenue for the next semester. There was very little money in the bank account. We immediately had to stop paying salaries and rent.
Since March we have accumulated over $14,000 in debt to our landlords and around $11,500 in debt for insurance, bank fees, supplies, utilities, accountant fees, and software fees. I reached out to our bank to apply for a federal stimulus loan, but they quickly ran out of money and said that they had thousands of applications already waiting for new funding to arrive.
After recovering from the shock of the enormous change in all our lives and getting settled with the sudden home schooling of my kids, I began looking for ways to continue Young at Art or at least make some money to pay back the debt that is owed. Several teachers have agreed to try online classes via Zoom. I don't know how successful it will be, but I hope to be able to pay back debt and offer teachers a way to make money for now.
As we have no money and are currently in debt, we are not able to offer refunds for any of our cancelled classes.
Permanent Closure of Our Studio
We are forced to permanently close our studio at 1088 Central Park Avenue in Scarsdale, NY. We already owe four months of rent, and we are accumulating more debt through insurance and utility fees. I don't see a way that we could begin holding classes again in 2020 and possibly not in 2021 either. Virtual classes are not likely to bring in enough money to pay teachers and expenses and rent. Therefore, we must clean out the studio and leave.
This experience has been a deeply sad one for me. The building itself may leave much to be desired, but the space inside where we held classes was full of love and creativity and light. Every time I enter it, I see the paint marks left on the floor from the last class I taught, and it brings tears to my eyes. I cannot believe that I, nor any of our staff, will make art with children in that space again. It makes me sad to think that Young at Art may not be able to continue at all. This is a difficult time.
Possible Future Reopening
Without enough money to pay rent, a possible future reopening is unknown. I am attempting to rebuild our financial reserves through online classes. I am also considering other funding options, such as grants and donations. If you would like to make a donation towards reopening, please contact me. If you have space that we can move into for little or no rent, please let me know.
I strongly feel that it is unsafe to reopen and run classes without testing and a viable vaccine available to everyone. Therefore, even if funding becomes available, we will not be reopening until those measures are in place. It may be a year or two until that is possible. In the meantime, our staff needs to find jobs so we can feed our families. So, timing may also make it impossible to reopen, but we will do our best to try.
Lastly, I want to share that it has long been my desire to create a nonprofit arm of Young at Art, so that classes could be made available to disabled children and adults and those with less access to the arts, such as children in homeless shelters, foster homes, and low income families. I am looking into the possibility of creating such an entity and continuing Young at Art as a nonprofit organization, offering the same classes we have in the past to those who can pay, to those who cannot, and to those who need special accommodations.
If you have any thoughts on Young at Art's future that you would like to share with me, please do not hesitate to contact me.