Visual arts

Without major donations, the Thousand Oaks Art Museum says it will close

The California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks is set to close without immediate major donations, museum officials say.

Nancy Chappell, chair of the museum’s board of trustees, said on Thursday that due to the pandemic, the non-profit organization suffered significant revenue losses mainly because it could no longer hold events. fundraising.

Unless the museum receives at least $250,000 in donations at a time, it will close on June 19, Chappell said. A $250,000 injection would cover the museum’s operating budget for a year, she said.

“Without significant financial support from the community and major private benefactors… impending closure is sadly the only way forward,” she said.

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The museum was established in 2009 and began its exhibits in 2016 when it moved into a former Taco Bell building in downtown Thousand Oaks owned by the city.

It quickly outgrew the small space and in 2018 moved to its current, larger site at The Oaks Mall, 350 W. Hillcrest Drive.

Museum officials had long hoped to establish a permanent home downtown, but the plans never materialized.

Chappell said the museum’s main expenses are the costs of mounting exhibits and paying the salaries of one full-time employee, general manager Roya Alt, and four part-time employees. Board members are volunteers.

According to the museum’s 2020 tax records, Alt worked an average of 30 hours per week and had reportable earnings of $33,300.

Chappell declined to say how much rent the nonprofit is paying at the mall.

She said the museum has received emergency COVID funding from the city and the federal government, but not enough to keep its doors open for the long term.

“It got us through the pandemic,” she said.

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Thousand Oaks Mayor Bob Engler said Thursday that closing the museum would be a loss for the community.

“It’s a sad situation,” he said. “Hopefully they can raise funds to stay in business as they are such an integral part of Thousand Oaks.”

Engler said the amount the city gave to the museum was about $25,000. He said he didn’t think the city could give more.

“I would encourage everyone in town if they have the interest and the means to contribute to this organization because they are doing a great job,” he said.

Chappell said the museum’s board and staff are proud of what they have achieved, including 16 exhibitions since 2016 attracting 40,000 visitors a year.

“We’ve brought beautiful, high-quality and engaging visual arts experiences to the community, so of course we’ll be sad that we can’t do that anymore,” she said.

The current exhibit at the California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks is titled "Landscape: through the eyes of abstraction." The museum risks closing without immediate donations.

Cristina Farias, 23, of Camarillo, one of the museum’s gallery attendants, said Thursday she was stunned upon learning of its impending closure.

“It’s been a pleasure working here,” she said. “We’re doing a great service to the community and families, and it’s devastating to hear that we probably have to close.”

Tara O’Gorman, 26, of Newbury Park, another gallery custodian, said closing the museum would not only be a loss for Thousand Oaks, but for all of Ventura County.

“It’s really unfortunate,” she said. “There aren’t a lot of artistic opportunities here or in the county in general, so I’ve always enjoyed this place.”

O’Gorman said it was exciting to work at the museum “because we show a lot of really amazing artists not just locally but from around the world,” she said. “So it will be upsetting not to have him here anymore.”

Other museums in Ventura County have also closed in recent years.

The California Oil Museum in Santa Paula, located in the original headquarters of the Union Oil Company, closed in September due to a lack of funding. But a message on his phone says he hopes to reopen later this year.

The Carnegie Art Museum in downtown Oxnard closed indefinitely in June 2019, a causality of the city’s budget cuts.

Those interested in making an immediate donation to the California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks can call Chappell at 805-796-0566 or email him at [email protected]

More information about the museum can be found on its website, cmato.org.

Mike Harris covers the county towns of Moorpark, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, as well as countywide transportation. You can contact him at [email protected] or 805-437-0323.

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