"There's just been a steady stream of little losses that piled up to get us to this point," said Craig Dunn, executive director of VSA Minnesota. (Provided)
Minnesota's arts organization for people with disabilities, VSA Minnesota, will shut down next year.
The decision follows a yearlong financial analysis of "ever-decreasing financial resources," according an announcement by the nonprofit's board. "VSA Minnesota will close with grace, thoughtfulness and care," the board said in its open letter.
"There's just been a steady stream of little losses that piled up to get us to this point," said Craig Dunn, VSA Minnesota's longtime executive director, by phone Tuesday.
The "huge loss" came in 2011, when the national VSA organization was defunded, he continued, "because that allowed us to do all the things we'd been doing for so many years. It served as a kind of leverage for many of the funds we had been receiving here in the state."
It also gave the Minnesota organization "heightened status" despite its tiny staff of two to three employees, Dunn said. "More than money, it was really being part of that larger organization."
Before the nonprofit formerly known as Very Special Arts Minnesota shutters in September, its leaders plan to wrap up programs, distribute $12,000 in grants to six artists with disabilities and hold a celebration. "VSA Minnesota will close with grace, thoughtfulness and care," the board said in its open letter.
For more than 30 years, VSA Minnesota has worked to give people with disabilities access to the arts through programs in theaters and schools and grants to artists and organizations. The nonprofit hopes to continue much of that work via other organizations. Springboard for the Arts, for example, will take on its services to artists with disabilities. The Metro Regional Arts Council will administer its ADA improvement grants.
"We are happy that there's an interest by other groups in moving forward with this work," said Dunn, whose impending retirement was also cited by the board. "That was the biggest concert. Yes, I was going to retire; that's fine. But it was retiring with the work not being done that was difficult.
"We do want that to live on."