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[BKARTS] Nexus Press

This message is being sent to the Book_arts-L electronic bulletin board:

I have received the following communication from Lance Weatherby, writing
about Nexus Press on behalf of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. I hope
others (with greater knowledge of the current situation in Atlanta than my
own) will comment on his message on Book_Arts-L.
    Weatherby's message does not comment on the abruptness with which the
operations of  Nexus Press were suspended.
    I would be glad to know more about the Task Force he mentions, and to
have an explanation regarding why the activities of the Press were
suspended *before* the formation of the Task Force, rather than afterwards
-- a sequence of events guaranteed to throw the decision to suspend into
chaos mode.

One notes that the Web site of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center:


-- formerly, as we are told in the first line of this page, the Nexus
Contemporary Art Center -- continues to trumpet the importance of its
relationship with Nexus, while making no mention of suspended operations.
                                                 -Terry Belanger

From: Lance Weatherby <lance@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: belanger@xxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Nexus Press
Date: Sat, 8 Mar 2003 11:11:41 -0500
On behalf of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, as a board member of
that organization and as Chair of the Nexus Press Task Force, I want to
thank you for your passionate expression of concern for the future of
Nexus Press in your note of February 21.  It is always gratifying to know
that the Nexus Press programming that the Contemporary has supported for
25 years has had such meaning for so many.  The Board of Directors and
staff of the Contemporary are well-aware of both the national and
international reputation of the Nexus Press, and the decision of the
Executive Committee of the Board to suspend operations of the Press was
taken with great
reluctance after careful consideration. We noted from the text of the
letters that we received that there were a number of misconceptions
regarding this decision. I would like to clarify some of these misconceptions.

First, the decision to suspend Press operations was not a unilateral one,
but rather was made by the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors
of the Contemporary, which is empowered by the Contemporary's bylaws with
the authority to act on behalf of the Board.  The Contemporary has not
"shut the Press down", but rather has  suspended operations.  The Task
Force, composed of both board and community members, is charged with
considering all reasonable options for making Nexus Press viable
financially, and to make recommendations to the Executive Committee by
April 30, 2003 or sooner for continuing Nexus Press operations.

Second, Nexus Press is a programming arm of the Contemporary.  It is not a
distinct entity with separate funding.  Unlike the other programming
divisions of the Contemporary (the Gallery, Education and Studios), the
Press has received little or no restricted funding (that is, donations and
grants specified for Press books or operations) in a number of years.
Accordingly, Press operations are funded from general operating funds of
the Contemporary, the sources of which include both government and private
unrestricted grants and donations, membership dues, gallery admission
revenue, education program revenue, studio rentals, special general
fundraising events, facilities rental and press book sales.  As noted in
the press release, book sales account for only $15-20,000 of the
Contemporary's revenues, of which approximately 40-50% is paid out to
artists in the form of royalties, leaving only approximately $7,500 to
$10,000 per year of operating funds available.  This net revenue barely
covers the direct production costs of one book.   Accordingly, the
remaining overhead, programming and operating expenses of the Nexus Press
are covered by the Contemporary's other sources of unrestricted grants and
general operating funds, which in today's environment are extremely
difficult to obtain.

Third, the decision to suspend Press operations was purely a financial
one. The Contemporary had a deficit of approximately $150,000 for its
2001-02 fiscal year, which was largely funded by draws on its line of
credit, and is projecting an additional deficit of approximately $55,000
for the 2002-03 fiscal year.  While our primary bank has agreed to carry
our line of credit for the time being, they are well aware of our current
financial situation; accordingly, we are faced with having to make painful
cuts to balance our budget.

Finally, we note that, although the Press is highly esteemed, and has a
deservedly great reputation in the national and international book arts
community, this reputation has not translated into sufficient memberships,
donations, program funding or book sales to sustain Press
operations.  Very few of those of you who have written to the Contemporary
are either members, have purchased a Nexus Press book in the past 12
months or made a donation. It will cost  $80,000 to sustain the Nexus
Press and its programming for the remainder of the 2003 calendar
year.  While we welcome unrestricted support through memberships,
donations, book sales and the like, restricted donations for the Press
will be accumulated and accepted only if we receive full funding of its
operations for the remainder of the calendar year.

On behalf of the Board of the Contemporary and the Task Force, I thank you
for your concern and welcome your questions, comments and assistance.  You
can reach me at lance@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Lance Weatherby

Terry Belanger : University Professor : University of Virginia : Rare Book School : 114 Alderman Library : Charlottesville, VA 22903 : Telephone 434/924-8851 fax 434/924-8824 email belanger@xxxxxxxxxxxx : URL <http://www.rarebookschool.org>

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