• 34°

SCCA finances improve

In bad economic times, the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts is reporting some moderately good news from its financial statements.

Though the center still is not in the black, its revenue is growing as a percentage of expenditures, and the center lost less money in 2009 than in the past three years.

“In terms of revenues versus expenditures, we have improved considerably,” director Paul Lasakow said. “Just by renegotiating contracts and spending money more wisely.”

The center saved roughly $100,000 in the past year by watching every dime more closely, Lasakow said. The arts venue posted revenues that were 67 percent of its expenditures in 2009, compared to percentages ranging from 43 to 62 in 2006-2008.

The center’s net loss in 2009 is reflected as $782,861. However, Lasakow cautioned that number shows only a snapshot in time — the end of the year — and does not reflect money such as historic tax credits that were posted in earlier years.

Just a year earlier, in 2008, the net loss was about $1.58 million.

In a report from Dale Walker, the city’s director of finance, Walker names the task of trying to generate contributions as a continuing challenge for the center. Contributions, rose in 2009 from 2008 levels, but did not come close to 2007 giving.

“What we’ve got working for us is far more tightly controlled expenditures,” Lasakow said.

The center is working towards being more relevant to the community in order to sell more memberships and give taxpayers a greater return on their investment — the contribution the city has made to the center each year since its opening.

“As we work toward making sure we’re doing what the community wants us to do, we hope memberships will increase,” Lasakow said.

He lauded the fundraising efforts that have led to increased contributions in a massive economic recession, and he said, the center continues to be “incredibly grateful for whatever the city provides us in terms of subsidy.”

Critics of the center’s funding situation have called for it to become independent of public funding, but both Walker and Lasakow say that is unlikely.

“The Center for Cultural Arts, just by the nature of such organizations, will have a difficult time to be self-sufficient,” Walker wrote in his report. “It will depend on corporate-government partnerships to make it a viable fabric in our community.”

Lasakow said arts organizations rarely are self-sustaining.

“That’s just the nature of the game,” Lasakow said. “That’s just how it works in Suffolk, in Norfolk, in New York City.”

Lasakow said the center’s financial statements show some good news, but it has a long way to go to break even.

“It is good news,” Lasakow said. “It shows we’re being responsible, and it shows we’re hanging on in the most difficult of times.”