By BEN MITCHELL
The White Salmon Arts Council has been around since 2004, but some members of the organization are concerned about how much longer the organization will be around.
Lloyd DeKay, president of the nonprofit community arts organization from Aug. 2009 to Jan. 2012, said the council is in danger of "collapsing under its own inertia" due to what he characterizes as apathy from its members.
The organization is responsible for a bulk of the work that goes into supporting local artists and cultural events in the community, including sponsoring community art classes, running an artists' co-op, providing scholarships for high school seniors intending to study art in college, and spearheading the annual Nights in White Salmon Events, which include the holiday tree-lighting and the Art & Wine Fusion events.
DeKay, who most recently held the title of secretary as well as treasurer at the WSAC, resigned from the board last month. He said his decision was, in part, influenced by two consecutive years of poor support from WSAC members during the Art & Wine Fusion events.
"The lack of assistance and participation in this and past year's Art & Wine Fusion events, despite repeated pleas for help and participation, was the trigger for my action," DeKay wrote in an e-mail to The Enterprise in response to questions about his resignation. "I remain an involved member, just not a board member."
No specific members were singled out by DeKay. The WSAC has 42 members, ranging from local businesses, to artists, and other individuals.
DeKay also said he tendered his resignation because he "felt our other members might not be participating as long as I continued to carry the load."
DeKay's resignation came just nine days after Steven Andersen, the former president of the WSAC, tendered his. Andersen was contacted by The Enterprise last week via phone and e-mail about the reasons for his resignation. As of press time, The Enterprise had not received a response.
Miki Caldwell, the current treasurer for the WSAC, agreed with both DeKay's statements about his resignation and the lack of motivation exhibited by some members.
"I don't think we get the support from our members like we should," Caldwell said.
Caldwell wasn't sure why interest in the organization has waned and expressed that perhaps people assumed it was too big a commitment to become a member.
"I think there's the perception that it takes a lot of time and effort," she explained.
DeKay also said he wasn't sure why interest had flagged in the WSAC, and was at a loss about how to rejuvenate it at this point.
"If I had answers to those questions, I'd probably still be president," he noted.
Both DeKay and Caldwell strongly advocated that the WSAC was worth saving. DeKay highlighted that the council "contributes greatly to the welfare of the community" by providing organized events, scholarships, grants and advertising. He also pointed out that the nonprofit status of the WSAC is important to preserve.
"WSAC has a valuable community asset in our 501(c)(3) status which provides tax benefits in support of the arts," DeKay explained. "That status was a lot of work to come by and should not be lightly lost."
When asked about whether the WSAC was in danger of dissolving, Caldwell was uncertain.
"I'm not sure, it will depend on what happens at the October meeting," she said.
According to the WSAC Web site, meetings are held the second Wednesday of every month, at 5:30 p.m. The next meeting will be held Oct. 10 at Peggy Ohlson's Studio, at 216 E. Jewett Blvd., White Salmon. Those wishing to join the WSAC have to fill out an application and pay annual dues of $25. More information can be found on the organization's Web site at www.whitesalmonarts.org