ACA loses director Guntley

Facing the future can mean re-evaluating the present.

In an e-mail dated Feb. 28, Allegheny Center for the Arts (ACA) Executive Director Jenette Guntly publicly announced she had resigned effective March 1.

“During these tough times, some harsh realities need to be faced and, in the interests of insuring the financial future of the ACA, it was necessary for me to tender my resignation,” Guntly said. “It’s been a good run, and I’ve worked with some great people.

“In the best interests of the Allegheny Center for the Arts, I found it necessary to tender my resignation as executive director. My deepest hopes are that, without the financial distress caused by an executive director’s salary, the center can marshal its resources, face its challenges and thrive,” Guntly explained. “Without a salaried employee, the ACA will have the ability to devote all of its resource to future growth.”

ACA Board President Mark Davis said the board is looking forward while negotiating the difficult financial landscape.

“All non-profits really function in a hard way… We’re all going through it (financial difficulties),” Davis said. “We’re moving forward. We have a really strong board, there are 12 of us now… We functioned really well for about three years doing a lot of things ourselves. We were excited to have an executive director with some new ideas and Jenette did that, but we have to move forward. We’ve got people already stepping forward to help us and volunteer.”

Davis declined to elaborate on the specifics of the situation as the full ACA board has not yet met on the issue, because a “key board member” is out of town.

However, he did note the resignation would not affect planned ACA programs.

Guntly advocated for continuing community support for the arts.

“The arts have played a fundamental role in forming my character and the path of my life,” Guntly said. “I’d like to ask you to step up. Be heard. Join classes. Donate to scholarships that will allow children and adults to learn about art in all its forms, sometimes for the first time ever. I’ve talked a lot about how crucial the arts are. They raise scores in all school subjects. And how enriching, (they’re) shown to stave off depression and improve brain function in the elderly. But we all need to be willing to stand behind our word… So I encourage you to step forward now.”

As for the future of the ACA, Davis said the goals haven’t changed.

“We’re passionate. We all are, about the arts in Warren and teaching classes,” Davis said. “That’s our main focus and we’re going to keep doing that.”

“The center has done an outstanding job of rallying from adversity thus far,” Guntly said. “I have every faith that it will continue to provide quality arts education and championship of arts-centered businesses into the future.”

Guntly said she hopes for the best for the ACA in her absence.

“I’d like to say thank you to all of the partners and volunteers that have been such a great help to me and the center. I wish the ACA all the luck in the world,” Guntly said. “I hope they will pull through these hard economic times and come out stronger than ever. And I do hope sometime in the future I’ll be able to help further the mission of arts in our region again.”