Summer programs at Fridley's Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts will go on as scheduled, after the Anoka County Parks Committee agreed to honor its commitment to provide funding through the rest of the year.
While safe for now, Banfill's long-term future is tenuous at best.
The Parks Committee, grappling with a $1.6 million budget deficit, is looking to end its annual $50,000 payment and force the nonprofit art center to vacate a county-owned historic building on the northern end of Manomin Park in Fridley.
The county pays Banfill $25,000 twice a year to provide and host classes, exhibitions, family events and other arts programs. The county's next payment to the organization is scheduled for July.
The Parks Committee entertained a proposal that would have cut off funding as soon as June 30, but backed away because the plan would have dealt sudden death to the 42-year-old arts center.
The committee decided to allow Banfill to stay in its current space until Dec. 31.
"A hard stop would not be fair," said Jeff Reinert, a Parks Committee member and Anoka County commissioner. "The money was already budgeted."
The reprieve will allow Banfill to get ready for its June 26 Summer Soirée, its largest fundraiser of the year. This year's event will feature a concert by Arne Fogel and an outdoor art show.
It also will allow Banfill to keep contracts it has with artists set to provide a full slate of programs lined up for the summer.
"I'm relieved we didn't lose everything on June 30," said Executive Director Abby Kosberg. "We have a lot of work to do to safeguard this for the community."
Kosberg said she will be looking for alternative spaces for Banfill in case the contract with the county is not renewed for 2022.
Banfill is the only organization the county pays to provide programming. The county also spends $40,000 a year to maintain the art center's home in a former tavern and farm house at 6666 E. River Road. A recent analysis revealed the building needs $1.5 million in repairs to the siding, roof and foundation.
The park board's deficit is projected to grow to $1.73 million this year, according to numbers presented at an outdoor meeting Tuesday in Bunker Hills Regional Park.
"We have a clear budget deficit we are dealing with," Parks Director Jeff Perry said.
Ending the contract was one option to help erase the shortfall, he said.
Fridley Mayor Scott Lund implored the committee to keep the current arrangement in place and help preserve history.
"Let's put our heads together as true partners and see if we can come up with a solution that works," he said during Tuesday's meeting. "Let's not just kill a program that serves all of us."
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768