Carriage House, Islip Art Museum (Built in 1910, the Carriage House is one of the few remaining examples of Edwardian shingle architecture at the turn of the century.)
via Artnet News, Aug 14:
ISLIP ART MUSEUM ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK
The Islip Art Museum in Islip, N.Y., long a home for experimental art on Long Island, is facing probable closure as the town looks to grapple with a $10-million budget hole by laying off city workers. After what Newsday called "a rowdy and emotionally charged" meeting on Tuesday, the Islip Town Board voted to let go of 97 city workers -- including, it seems, the entire museum staff.
Islip Museum director Mary Lou Cohalan told Artnet Magazine that the Town of Islip was in negotiation with the nonprofit Islip Arts Council about taking over the museum, but that negotiations would take at least four months, while layoffs will come much sooner. "Closing for any length of time will have a negative impact on our audience, on our schedule (we will have to cancel exhibits) and on our reputation with our grantors," said Cohalan.
At emotional meeting, Islip approves worker layoffs
At a rowdy and emotionally charged meeting Tuesday, the Islip Town Board adopted a resolution to lay off 97 workers - but also approved an amendment that calls for reducing that number next month if the union offers money-saving concessions.
Town officials said the workforce reduction will help fill a projected $10-million budget hole in 2010 caused by falling mortgage tax and interest revenues. Without it, residents would face a 25 percent increase in their town taxes, they said.
The 4-1 vote was preceded by an hour of public comments in which town employees, union representatives, residents and political candidates pleaded with the board to avoid layoffs.
"I have a family, a house; I'm about to send my daughter to college in two weeks," said Martin Lubliner, 48, a 28-year town security guard. "I hope that in your heart, you can find some compassion for myself and the many fine employees of the town."
The town will now forward a list of 86 full-time and 11 part-time positions slated for elimination to the Suffolk County Civil Service Department for review, town officials said. The amendment calls for the town board to revisit the list at its Sept. 15 meeting and, if union negotiations have produced savings, reduce the number of layoffs.
Speakers criticized the cuts to public safety, the town's animal shelter and the Islip Art Museum, which is slated to lose its entire staff. The town is seeking to transfer stewardship of the museum to a nonprofit arts organization.
Tempers ran hot as Supervisor Phil Nolan, a Democrat, and Councilman Steven Flotteron, the board's only Republican, verbally sparred during the public comment period and in the debate preceding the vote - each accusing the other's party of fiscal mismanagement.
The nearly 200 people who packed Town Hall jeered and whistled in response. Flotteron made a motion to table the layoff resolution. It was not seconded.
Flotteron also attempted to introduce an unscheduled resolution that would cut salaries, revoke take-home cars and require health insurance contributions for elected, appointed and management positions with salaries over certain thresholds.
Nolan declined to entertain the motion because it was not on the agenda and the board members had not had time to consider it.
As the board prepared to vote, Richard Hendershot, vice president of the town workers' union, Teamsters Local 237, stood and shouted: "We have an opportunity here to save jobs. Don't send these people out the door!"
Councilman Christopher Bodkin responded, "All of us in every way feel for you, and understand the tragedy of being laid off. We also see our responsibility to the taxpayers."
Please consider writing an email or letter today in support of the Islip Art Museum.
For updates and more info see my Facebook thread;
For more details and a really good sample letter see Art Fag City;
Article in Newsday: Islip Town to vote on layoffs to close $10M budget gap. (August 10, 2009).
received Friday Aug 7, via email:
As you may know the Islip Art Museum has been a beacon of contemporary art showing artists from all over the world. We have received much critical attention over the past 30 years or so. We are the only institution to show such work between New York City and the Hamptons. We are an educational institution bringing contemporary art to an underserved community. Let the councilmen know that this is a loss and that you care about it.
Please contact people you know, not just artists, and ask them to lobby on our behalf. Something simple is good, like:
The Islip Art Museum is one of the most valuable resources for young artists in the tri-state area. I understand that you are considering laying off the entire staff, a move that would effectively close the Museum. I know fiscal problems are everywhere--nonetheless, I urge you not to eliminate this important cultural institution.
Please send a letter and an e-mail to the following officials and ask anyone you know to do the same.
Phil Nolan, Supervisor
Christopher Bodkin, Councilman
Steven Flotteron, Councilman
John Edwards, Councilman
Gene Parrington, Councilman
The address is:
Islip Town Board
655 Main Street
Islip, NY 11751
The Islip Art Museum is the leading exhibition space for contemporary art on Long Island. The Museum presents five exhibitions a year in its main galleries. Exhibitions are organized to reflect issues and concerns in the current art world.
Our exhibitions attract a wide range of the New York and international art world to Long Island. In addition to an ambitious exhibition program featuring contemporary art by new and emerging artists, we also present lectures, fine art classes for adults and children, and workshops and tours for all age groups....
Our landmark structure next to the Islip Art Museum, the Carriage House, is Long Island's center for experimental art. We present three exhibitions a year at this site, including one based on an open call for proposals. Artists are invited to submit proposals in a variety of artistic media for presentation in this building.
We maintain a growing Permanent Collection of works by leading contemporary artists, focusing on those with ties to Long Island. Changing exhibitions are presented in the Permanent Collection Gallery.