Four of the seven members of the Lynnwood Arts Commission have suddenly resigned, citing a dwindling amount of funding and support for the city’s cultural arts program.
To help the city fill a new $3.5 million budget shortfall, several popular programs are the chopping block – including the annual Shakespeare in the Park and Wonder Stage performances, as well as teen programs such as Night Waves and summer camps.
“I’ve seen this commission grow, especially over the last couple of years, into a group of people willing and able to take on projects, and to fight for the arts in our community,” said Commissioner Ruth Ross. “Unfortunately our reward has been a complete lack of support from top staff, and a constant series of cuts that threaten the very existence of arts in Lynnwood.”
Some commission members said the final straw was the departure of Cultural Arts Supervisor Fred Wong, who was facing a layoff and resigned to find work elsewhere.
“To me it’s simple; the loss of arts in Lynnwood cannot withstand the loss of Fred. And the saddest part is so few people realize what he brought to this community,” Ross said.
Also resigning are commission members Rennie Grossman, Jordan Light and Allison Bren Ferris.
“I think we’re losing a part of what makes Lynnwood a great city to live in and do business in,” Grossman added.
Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Director Lynn Sordel told us they’re making an effort to spare some of these popular programs. Sponsors are being sought for Shakespeare in the Park and Wonder Stage. On Monday night, they’ll also present to the City Council other ideas to generate more revenue for the arts.
“We are proposing increases in certain admission, program and rentals we offer,” he said. “It is our intention to use these monies to build a reserve account to maintain the Rec Center and hopefully, retain two part-time positions slated for elimination at the end of the month.”
Sordel added that core components of the arts program, administered by contractual instructors, are not part of the 5.5 percent reduction plan.