Community raises $70K in 2 weeks to save Wyoming Fine Arts Center

Thanks to an outpouring of public financial support in just two weeks, the Wyoming Fine Arts Center reported it is no longer in danger of closing. The longstanding creative organization received nearly $70,000 in donations since recently announcing it would have to close next year due to financial constraints.

“I have been so touched by the support we have seen this last week and a half,” said Caroline Hyatt, vice president of the center’s board.

Founded in 1995 as the Cincinnati String Academy, the organization became the Wyoming Fine Arts Center in 2000 after adding a full repertoire of fine arts programming. WFAC offers music classes and concerts and a mixture of visual arts offerings. Leadership plans to expand its dance offerings as well.

Unlike many nonprofits, the Wyoming Fine Arts Center hasn’t typically relied on grants or donations to cover its budget in the past. Instead, the center’s business model relied heavily on program fees. This made the center particularly vulnerable to a decline in enrollment caused by the pandemic, Hyatt said.

As a result, leadership of the Wyoming Avenue facility stressed a need to raise at least $60,000 by the end of the year in order to remain open.

Since that time, the center “has been humbled” by the outpouring of support from the community, Hyatt said. In the days since that announcement, the center has received money from more than 100 donors.

Flying Cloud Academy of Vintage Dance calls the center home.

Hyatt described donors having opened their hearts as well as their pocketbooks. In addition to financial donations, residents have offered to volunteer at the center and provide other forms of support.

“Everyone just wants to know what they can do to help,” she added.

The recent donations ensure the organization will not only remain open but provide the organization with the time to continue to implement a development plan, according to Ramona Toussaint, the center’s executive director. She received appointment to the position in December 2021.

Toussaint stressed the center must find ways to adapt to the post-COVID environment by crafting “a more stable and balanced revenue approach.”

The center needs to raise $250,000 every year. Some of that will continue to come from fees and grants. But to meet that goal, the rest of it will come from donors, she said. To this end, the Wyoming Fine Arts Center is hosting a campaign to raise $150,000 by Feb. 1.

“We have to change our business model to ensure future stability,” Toussaint said.

“It is a relief to know we can count on our community; they value the arts and the services we provide,” she added. “Our community has shown up in spades.”

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