Solon Arts Center Supporters Speak Out In Favor Of Arts Programs, Karen Prasser
More than a dozen Solon residents, many who were students at the Solon Center for the Arts, voiced support for former director Karen Prasser and the center's art programs in letters to the mayor.
More than a dozen former students of the Solon Center for the Arts and residents have voiced support for the embattled arts center and its former executive director Karen Prasser.
The letters are addressed to Mayor Susan Drucker and were collected by Zach Davidson, a college student who graduated from Solon and was a participant in many programs at the center.
Davidson and the other letter writers are concerned that the city will reduce programming at the arts center and lose the gains that the arts center made under Prasser's leadership.
"There are so many that have benefited from the institution that Karen Prasser built-up with her incredible devotion during her tenure as the Center’s director," wrote Davidson in his letter.
The SCA has been under scrutiny since Prasser resigned and city officials announced that the arts center is under investigation under the city's fraud policy. It's unclear right now if the resignation and the investigation are in any way linked.
Other employees have also resigned, including Kris Ferencie, a popular instructor who worked with theater programs.
Then the city withdrew its application for a 2013 Cuyahoga County Arts and Culture grant, which the center has used to bring in programs and theatrical productions. The Friends of the Solon Center for the Arts, which raises money for programs, has suspended fundraising activity until the leadership situation at the arts center is resolved, reports the Solon Times.
The arts center is being run by acting director Russell Schneider, an assistant recreation director for the city.
Mayor Susan Drucker has said that the SCA is running well and that all programs have continued without a hitch.
But the letter writers are concerned that the city will abandon the arts and rob future students of the enriching arts education they received at SCA.
Read all of the letters in their entirety by clicking the PDF attached to this article. Here's samples from some of the letters:
I hope that the City of Solon recognizes the impact Karen has made and ensures the future of SCA is just as bright, which will not be an easy feat without keeping close to community Arts supporters and continuing to think outside the box and bringing innovative programming that will continue to put Solon on the map. -Natasha Davidson
The Solon Center for the Arts is responsible for opening my eyes to the beauty all art forms have, and the growth I achieved through the theater programs has literally made me into the strong, confident, creative individual that I am today. I am so grateful for everything the center has given me in the past, and hope with all my heart that the Solon Center of the Arts can continue to change the lives of future generations. -Stephanie Vlk
I believe that without such an important element such as the Solon Center for the Arts in our community, Solon as a whole would lose not a "worthless" use of the cities money, but would lose one of the most beneficial and enriching opportunities it ever offered its residents and the residents from surrounding cities. -Maria Williams
It is my hope that the city of Solon will re-focus itself when it comes to the Solon Center for the Arts during this difficult time. While I recognize that the pending investigation is a serious one, it has nothing to do with the thousands of people who have been touched by the love, education, talent, creativity, and sense of culture that has come from SCA. In my opinion, those wishing to continue their artistic education should have the opportunity to do so, artists should be able to display their work in the galleries, performers should be given the chance to shine, and the city of Solon must come together as the strong artistic community that they once were; placing more importance on the arts than ever before. -Atlie Gilbert
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