The Arkansas Arts Center has decided to outsource its marketing to Stone Ward, director Todd Herman announced to the Arts Center Board of Directors today. That means the three staffers in marketing have been laid off.
The move won't save any money, but will allow the Arts Center to get more bang for the buck, Herman said (though not in those words). The Arts Center's contract with Stone Ward is a one-year renewable contract for up to three years.
Director Herman explained the idea to outsource arose with the Arts Center's plans to remake its woefully outdated website. Stone Ward staff will be able to keep the new website, with all its additional capabilities, up to date, and expand on the Arts Center's social media, updating its Facebook page, creating a mobile Arts Center app, and potentially adding a Pinterest page and promoting the Google Art Project, which lets people assemble their favorite art online, to patrons. Ward would also like to see events styled after the TED-talks, events at lunch similar to the Clinton School's and to create a "better" and more "dynamic" gallery experience, Millie Ward said in today's presentation to the board. The agency's goal to "re-energize the Arts Center."
There will still be one full-time person at the Arts Center to handle requests; that person will be hired by Stone Ward and their pay will be included in the contract price. Ward said that person will, however, report to Herman. Herman said he had encouraged the three employees laid off today to apply for the position. Until that person is hired, Amy Osment of Stone Ward will fill in.
The Arts Center has also outsourced the maintaining of its grounds, and the building and grounds committee of the board has made a thorough assessment of the building to prioritize physical plant needs, such as replacement of its emergency back-up power generator and fire suppression system. One hopes that committee made a thorough examination of the Terry House Community Arts Center, which yesterday was as hot and humid as a rain forest for a well-attended opening of an exhibit of works on paper ("Arkansas Champion Trees: An Artist's Journey," by Linda Williams Palmer). The organizers of the exhibit had to throw the doors wide open to bring in cool air, since an indifferent Arts Center staffer said there was nothing he could do to change the thermostat on the air conditioner. It may have been too warm for even him, since he began turning off the lights promptly at 5 p.m., before all the attendees had left the reception.
Some visitors expressed concern for the drawings in a building that can't be climate-controlled. Others wondered if the Arts Center was just too poor to cool the building. Asked about that, Herman said that was not the case and he would check into the problems.