April 12, 2019; Orlando Sentinel
NPQ has too often written about the pain and confusion that come from breakdowns in the relationships between cities and the nonprofit cultural institutions in which they have invested. So we thought we would publish a story with a different kind of outcome…at least so far.
For almost a quarter of a century, Lake Eustis Museum of Art (LEMA) has been bringing fine art exhibitions and art classes to central Florida’s Lake County. That’s about to end. Recently, LEMA’s board voted to move the museum to Tavares, five miles south of the Eustis. It’s just “not feeling the love” in Eustis.
LEMA opened at 113 Bay Street in 1995, then later moved to a building at Orange Avenue and Grove Street before relocating to the current location in 2012. While the museum is largely supported by membership dues, sponsorships, and donations, it relies heavily on state funding. Financial constraints, including the loss of the state cultural affairs grant it used to pay staff salaries, has left the museum in dire straits, with dwindling financial resources and a Eustis city-owned building in serious need of repair.
The museum’s board went to the city for help, but the 14-month negotiations fell through. “We’ve been struggling financially for a long time,” Lou Buigas, chairwoman of the board of directors, claims. “We’re not feeling the love, so we’ve got to go where we feel the love.”
Eustis City Manager