Fictional devo staffers, imaginary grant writing software, and a lack of annual audits are only part of the concerns that ultimately led the Glenwood Springs police to investigate the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts (GSCA) finances.
The 5/22/2017 edition of the postindependent.com published an article by Ryan Summerlin that reports on the latest in suspected governance fail and possible criminal behavior. The investigation centers on management practices of former executive director Christina Brusig and the organization’s slide from financial stability to near collapse during her tenure, which began in 2014.
The inquiry into GSCA finances is ongoing but Brusig recently plead guilty to felony check fraud. The Denver Post published details of that case, which appears to be mutually exclusive of the Glenwood Springs police investigation, in an article from 4/25/2017.
Summerlin’s article is a fascinating read and demonstrates the sort of trouble arts organizations can get into when crafting unusual arrangements with city governments. In the GSCA’s case, the city contributed regular funding and the executive director, including Brusig, was a city employee. At the same time, executive oversight was the domain of the center’s board.
According to report, this separation of otherwise integrated responsibilities made both parties sluggish when considering action once problems became known. Moreover, a lack of clearly defined oversight responsibilities may have contributed to an environment that encouraged poor executive decision making.
If nothing else, the ordeal serves as a useful warning to organizations with similar funding and governance arrangements. Good and capable executive leaders rarely generate cause for alarm but that shouldn’t invite extended governance leaders to be lax in their oversight duties.