LETTER: Vote To Save Danforth Art/Museum

On October 17th, Framingham’s Town Meeting members will vote whether or not to purchase the Jonathan Maynard Building from the Danforth Museum Corporation.

That vote will decide if Danforth Art will continue to serve the community or if the institution will close, and the art collection given to another art museum.

The recent announcement of Danforth Art’s and Framingham State University’s intention to merge and create “The Danforth Art Center at FSU” insured the future of the museum and community art school.

The news was especially welcome to the community as the fate of Danforth Art has been in question since our forced relocation last year.

Since then, we have packed and moved twice over 3,000 art works, renovated spaces at the Maynard Building to reopen the School and to store our collection, and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to meet the challenges of unplanned expenses and lost income. But now,  it is this vote on October 17th that will decide our future.

The merger is dependent on FSU’s purchase of the Maynard Building. The University has committed over $4.5 million to the purchase and renovation of it to create “The Danforth Art Center at FSU.”

The Center will open in January 2019 and will include the Danforth Art Museum, the Danforth Art School and some FSU studio art classes.

For the past year, the most consistent question asked of us has been “when will the museum re-open?” We now have an answer.

FSU is not purchasing the Jonathan Maynard Building to obtain property but to retain the arts in Framingham. As did Justin McCarthy, current FSU President Javier Cevallos recognizes that the arts are vital to Framingham’s quality of life and to its’ economy. They are investing $240,000 annually towards the Danforth Art Museum and Art School operations, as well as providing the infrastructure needed for long-term financial stability.

National higher education accreditation standards also require community service. Supporting a cultural center for public use will provide another opportunity for the University to do so. Plus, it will be the only State University or college in Massachusetts to have a museum.

If the Town exercises its right to purchase the building at 2/3 of the University’s $2,210,000 offer, the price will be $1,473,333.

$650,000 of that amount will be returned to the Town to pay off Danforth’smortgage.

However, according to statements made by several Town officials at recent Town committee meetings, the cost would be millions of  dollars more due to the extensive renovations needed to use the building.

Most importantly, what would the Town use it for?

The most common suggestion is for the School Department. School officials recently toured the building and decided it does not meet their needs.

If the Town does not choose to purchase, there is a financial benefit to Framingham. The Town receives $1,000,000: $650,000 repayment of Danforth’s mortgage and an additional $350,000 towards in-kind services not yet provided. The in-kind services are $500,000 of programs for the Town that Danforth agreed to as part of its’ mortgage. It is the mission of museums to educate and support their communities. The Museum will still welcome Framingham Public School students for tours, offer family art programs, and partner with the library and other community organizations. The Art School will continue offering classes for students of all ages, including the popular Summer Arts program for children.

FSU’s plan for an arts center benefits all.

The historic importance of the Jonathan Maynard Building and its location on Centre Common is ideal to house “The Danforth Art Center at FSU,”as part of a Cultural District with the Framingham History Center and other organizations.

A “NO” vote on Article 1 and a “YES” vote on Article 2 at the October 17th Town Meeting will allow the sale of the Jonathan Maynard Building to FSU.

The Town receives $1,000,000.

The Museum re-opens, art classes continue, and a vibrant art center and district will attract visitors, support businesses, and strengthen community.

Everyone wins.

Debra Petke, Executive Director
Danforth Art Museum\School

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

Leave a Reply