Port Angeles Fine Arts Center cuts hours

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — As the solo paid staff member at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, Robin Anderson has reduced the hours of the city’s public art gallery.

The center, a showcase for artists across the Pacific Northwest, now is open just four days a week instead of the longstanding five.

Anderson, the center’s executive director since last summer, has ended its Wednesday hours and will keep the gallery open Thursdays through Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., beginning this week.

“It will give me more opportunity to run the center,” Anderson said Wednesday, as she returned from a 10-day vacation.

The 26-year-old fine arts center, overlooking the city at 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd., has about three dozen volunteer docents who greet visitors and talk with them about the exhibits.

The current show, “Pillars,” a mixed-media collection by Gray’s Harbor County sculptors Robin and John Gumaelius, is on display through May 5.

Relying on volunteers to keep the center open five days a week wouldn’t be practical, Anderson said.

“They’re volunteers. Sometimes they come, and sometimes they don’t.”

The fine arts center is part of Port Angeles’ city Parks & Recreation department, but “they’re just as hard up as we are,” Anderson said.

When she took time off March 16 through this past Wednesday, the director shut the center’s doors, as no city staffers were available to fill in.

For two decades, the fine arts center had two paid staff people: Executive Director Jake Seniuk and Education Director Barbara Slavik.

Seniuk retired in July and Slavik in January; Anderson was hired as director, but Slavik’s position was left vacant.

“There’s no money in the budget for part-time help,” city Parks & Recreation director Corey Delikat, “but we are looking into other options,” such as an AmeriCorps volunteer.

The city of Port Angeles said that expected expenditures are $147,700 with $127,000 revenue from the Esther Webster Trust Fund for 2013.

A membership form for the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center was enclosed with city residents’ utility bills this month. Annual memberships start at $35.

“It really has affected the arts center to have lost our second staff person,” said Betsy Robins, president of the fine arts center foundation.

“We’re in a state of flux,” she added. “It’s horrible” to have the center closed three days a week.

Anderson, for her part, emphasized that Webster’s Woods, the 5-acre art park surrounding the center’s gallery, is still open every day.

From dawn until nightfall, visitors can walk through a forest and meadow dotted with sculptures, paintings and mixed-media works by artists from across the Northwest.

Robins said she hopes to see the center open five days a week again by summertime.

“We are all trying to do our best with the people we have and the dollars we have,” she added, “to be the foremost arts center on the Olympic Peninsula.”

More information about the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, phone 360-457-3532 or visit www.PAFAC.org.

Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 01. 2013 6:17PM
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