A letter from Bunnell President, Argent Kvasnikoff
Dear Supporters of the Bunnell Street Arts Center,
This spring marks a year since the Covid-19 pandemic has brought daily life worldwide to a standstill. The challenges of this pandemic have permeated every facet of living from our physical and mental health to the fabric of our economy and social well-being, and Bunnell understands that despite the world’s welcome progress towards immunization and containment, these challenges will persist through the foreseeable future. In this moment I would like to ask you personally to express gratitude to whoever it is in your life that has been an outstanding source of support and comfort in the past year. Whether they are family, friends, doctors, nurses, postal workers, gas station attendants, snow plowers, cooks, cashiers, librarians, or just someone who keeps the lights on at a place that makes you feel like everything is OK, they all deserve our utmost appreciation.
Having contracted Covid-19 myself last autumn and still recuperating from its effects today, I know firsthand that in the darkest moments of crisis the farthest thing from one’s mind is if an arts organization is able to function during a pandemic. With the dedicated leadership and focused work of its staff Bunnell was not only just able to survive the onset of the life-changing Covid-19 pandemic, but it was also able to thrive. Instead of seeing just daunting challenges our directorship saw opportunities ahead for growth and change, and the programming and outreach of the past year exceeded all expectations.
During this time, we adopted a new mission statement which emphasizes Bunnell’s commitment to the artistic community: To spark artistic inquiry, innovation and equity to strengthen the physical, social and economic fabric of Alaska. The most significant accomplishment demonstrating the sentiment of this mission was that Bunnell directly supported artists in amounts exceeding its administrative costs in 2020. Working artists in Alaska and worldwide are experiencing immeasurable, pandemic-related losses of revenue through sales, performances, and opportunities in general, and Bunnell’s long time commitment to supporting artists and maintaining community relationships has been allowing it to help offset those losses today. To be able to do this and grow as an organization this year is not just impressive for a non-profit organization within Alaska, it is a model example for any gallery or arts organization in the entire world. To be able to conquer the challenges head on, expand, and support artists who have lost work in a time when even some of the most well-funded and prestigious galleries in the world’s largest cities are facing closures and making difficult decisions (like whether to divest their collections or not) is something we can all take pride in.
Of course, this kind of success doesn’t just happen by chance, it is carefully orchestrated by the co-leadership of our experienced team of Executive Director Adele Person and Artistic Director Asia Freeman, as well as the guidance and support of my fellow board directors and the members of our standing committees. On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to express appreciation and heartfelt thanks for two of these people in particular, Maura Brenin and David Pettibone, who have recently stepped down from the board of directors. Both Maura and David have given invaluable contributions in the shaping of the organization as it is today.
Considering these new vacancies, we are now accepting letters of interest from individuals who would like to become prospective board members or a member of any of Bunnell’s standing committees. Bunnell’s three direct operational committees, Development, Finance, and Governance, which were until recently made up of all board members, have recently been opened to include any interested individuals even if they aren’t on the Board of Directors itself. This decision was made to allow more people to participate in Bunnell’s organization to let a wider diversity of ideas and opinions play a role in our decision-making processes. Bunnell’s Advisory Board, which meets annually and on an as-needed basis, is also open for prospective members.
Who can become a board member or committee member? Absolutely anyone with an interest in the arts is invited, there are no set qualifications. In choosing prospective board members, Bunnell does consider experience in the arts or arts education, non-profit organizations, or civic engagement. We also consider social, cultural, and artistic diversity in order to contribute to the exchange of ideas through different media and life experiences. Additionally, geographic diversity is considered. One of the shiny silver linings of Covid-19 was learning how successful we can be by adapting via the use of video conferencing and cloud documentation to accommodate individuals in lockdowns or residing outside of the immediate Homer area. Since Bunnell is committed to serving all of Alaska and its connections to the artistic community worldwide we have committed to continuing their use and are now inviting individuals in any location to join us. Our board and committees now include people located in Eagle River, Anchorage, and Homer’s neighboring riverine hamlet of Ninilchik (me!) To submit a letter of interest you can either use our contact form online at bunnellarts.org or mail a physical letter to our address. We are looking forward to hearing from you.
Lastly, I would like to personally thank everyone who has supported Bunnell throughout this past year. It has been an honor to be able to serve in this capacity and I am incredibly optimistic for what the future holds. As someone who considers themselves a “Bunnell success story” I am determined to ensure that our organization continues to be the pivotal voice and opportunity for young artists as it was for me since I first visited the gallery as a kid in the late 90’s. Being able to visit this gallery and participate in its programs since my youth played a major role in not just my artistic development but also my growth as a fully formed human being, and I am glad to start to pay that support back.