- Associated Press - Saturday, April 1, 2017

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) - There is “substantial doubt” about the Rochester Art Center’s ability to continue operating after a recent audit of its 2014-2015 finances.

The audit showed that contributions, corporate sponsorships and memberships are all declining and that the center’s cash balance had fallen significantly, the Minnesota Public Radio reported (http://bit.ly/2o7DNUY ).

Rochester heavily subsidizes the center, giving it more than $1.2 million in larger and larger chunks over a five-year span. The center is budgeting for a city grant of $330,000, a lower amount than in 2015.

City Council President Randy Staver said he was unaware of the recent audit, and now wants more answers on how the center has been managing its money.

“This will provoke some additional scrutiny, in terms how is the financial health of the organization and what can we do to right the ship,” he said.

Art center Board President Brad Nuss said the organization assessing the numbers and making efforts toward a financially responsible budget.

“The audit report is almost like an intervention,” business professor Terry Tranter said. “You not only have to change, but you have to change it right now.”

Tranter said red flags in the audit included a huge drop in cash in the bank in 2015 combined with a significant spending increase. He said based on those results, the center should have been out of business last year.

“There’s a great contemporary art community down there, and it really is a link between the Twin Cities and Rochester contemporary artists,” artist Melissa Borman said. “We need it. We need it to stay a contemporary art center.”

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

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