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Former MACC Foundation board forms new organization

The MACC Foundation board, which recently elected new members, has dissolved the nonprofit organization (originally Friends of MACC) dedicated solely to supporting the Mountain Arts Community Center to form a new organization with a broader mission, according to president Paul Hendricks.

“The Friends of MACC started focusing more and more on fundraising [when it became the MACC Foundation,]” he said. “As we began reaching out to donors, we found people who wanted to support the arts, but not specifically the MACC.”

The former MACC Foundation board is now the board of directors for the new Signal Mountain Arts Foundation, or SMArt, which Hendrix said is expanding the MACC Foundation’s fundraising scope to include all arts organizations on the mountain.

“We’re positioning ourselves to do more and have a bigger impact,” said Patrick Emanuel, executive director of SMArt.

Hendricks said a major goal discussed in the recently completed strategic planning process for the MACC was to clarify the roles of the various organizations involved: the MACC board of directors, Signal Mountain Town Council and the MACC Foundation board.

“We’re broadening our focus as a way to fulfill the strategic planning goals and working together to bring the broader community together,” he said. “We want to make clear we are a private, separate fundraising organization.”

Another factor behind the organization’s evolution is a population shift on the mountain in which more and more residents do not have a connection to the MACC building, as SMArt’s mission appeals to those people as well as longtime residents, said Hendricks.

“There are a lot of arts organizations on the mountain independently trying to support themselves,” he said. “We’re trying to take the fundraising burden off these organizations so they can devote more time to actually operating the programs.”

SMArt is currently reaching out to arts organizations on the mountain to get a feel for what their needs are, said Emanuel.

They said SMArt is not looking to run anyone’s organization for them, but will serve as a nonprofit to which other groups can come to with ideas they would like to fund.

SMArt may continue to support the MACC on a case-by-case basis in addition to other community centers in the 37377 ZIP code. Individuals desiring funding for arts-related endeavors will also have the opportunity to receive SMArt grants, said Hendricks.

“Everything is very mountain-centric instead of one location-centric,” he said.

The board has not yet determined its grant application process, but the establishment of its four volunteer committees — including public relations, special events, development and finance — is currently under way.

“The only way we’ve been able to do what we’ve done as an organization the past couple of years is through volunteerism and community involvement,” said Emanuel.

Where will MACC get money now?

With the demise of the 501(c)3 organization dedicated to its support, the MACC will need to look to new sources to fund the center created 11 years ago to give the community a place to gather and create art.

“We will have to create another independent organization dedicated to fundraising for MACC,” said Dick Gee, the Signal Mountain Town Council’s liaison to the MACC. “We hope some of the citizens will come forward and be willing to do that, and we feel pretty confident they will.”

Since the MACC is owned by the town of Signal Mountain, which cannot apply for grants from organizations such as the Tennessee Arts Commission, Friends of MACC was originally created to provide an organization that could funnel those funds to the MACC, said Colleen Laliberte, who recently rolled off the MACC Foundation board.

“I believe there is still a need for the MACC to have a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to advocate for MACC and continue to raise funds,” she said. “If what [the former MACC Foundation board members] want to do is create an organization with a broader scope, they should create a new 501(c)3 to do that. I don’t think they’re justified in dissolving an organization that’s been around for 10 years; it seems to me this will only diminish or dilute the funds going to the MACC.”

Gee said SMArt cannot currently raise money in the MACC’s name.

“This doesn’t mean in the future we might not work cooperatively, but right now we don’t have an agreement in place,” he said. “It doesn’t mean in the future we might not work in cooperation, but right now we don’t have an agreement in place that would allow that to happen.”

The town greatly appreciates the funds raised by the MACC Foundation for the MACC, said Gee, approximately $50,000 last year.

He said he believes the remaining funds necessary to bring the building up to current codes will be included in the town budget for the upcoming fiscal year, pending approval.

All money previously raised by Friends of MACC and the MACC Foundation has been spent on MACC-related expenditures, according to Emanuel, and SMArt is starting with a zero-dollar balance.

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