By Kara Lopp
Mint Hill Arts is in trouble.
The nonprofit arts organization needs cash and volunteer leaders to stay afloat.
That was the message Mint Hill Arts President Anthony Billotto gave in a recent letter to its 175 members and others in the community. Most of the organization’s current executive committee leaders, including himself, won’t run for re-election when their volunteer terms end June 30, he said. The open positions also include the first vice president, treasurer, secretary and one member at large.
The demands of the positions have become too much, Billotto said, noting the people stepping down are long-time volunteers who have held leadership roles for years. The nonprofit provides art classes, free monthly exhibits and more to area children and adults.
“Some of the reasons for stepping down involve personal financial reasons. The time required for some of these positions severely cuts into the time needed for individuals to make a living,” he said in the letter. “Some of these members regularly have been giving 15 to 30 hours per week, week in and week out, for as many as eight years. Life takes twists and turns for people and sometimes they can’t provide those services that they’ve been doing for years.”
Losing treasurer Laura Sussman-Randall is s serious problem, Billotto said. The organization had hoped to get enough money from the Town of Mint Hill in the form of a tourism grant to hire someone, at least part time, to handle the bookkeeping and bill paying. Mint Hill Arts requested $20,000 from the town this year. Town commissioners voted to give $5,000 – the same amount they received the past two years. The amount makes up 11 percent of the group’s annual budget. Town Manager Brian Welch said this week there isn’t any extra tourism money to give.
The nonprofit receives a grant from the Arts and Science Council, but the money can only be used for educational classes and programs, not operational costs.
“If we had enough money, which I wanted to town to step up and take care of, if we had money to pay someone to do our accounting, that would solve a huge, huge problem,” Billotto said. “My gripe is not that the town doesn’t support us, they do. I just wish they could support us more. When I look at Matthews, the arts are supported much better. I know (Matthews has) a bigger tax base and bigger budget but we’ve never asked for space in a new building or anything like that … we’re just asking for a little extra help so we don’t have to worry about every single thing.”
Without help from somewhere, Mint Hill Arts may not be around much longer, Billotto said. And that idea deeply saddens him.
“Our fate is in the hands of a lot of people right now,” Billotto said. “If people think (Mint Hill Arts is) important, then they’ll help and if they don’t, it’s time to move on, I guess. It’s sad, I don’t like saying it, but … we have a crisis that is imminent. I’m not minimizing the importance of acting quickly here.”
Want to help?
To donate, visit www.minthillarts.org/donate.html. The nonprofit also is seeking in-kind donations of bookkeeping or accounting help.
For more information about how you can help, call 980-226-5532 or email Anthony Billotto at firstname.lastname@example.org.