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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Lengthy Seaside’s nonprofit Compound struggles to ‘climate the storm’

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Lengthy Seaside’s Compound is a recent artwork area specializing in tradition, wellness and group — suppose yoga and sundown sound baths within the sculpture backyard. There’s an ethereal courtyard, a number of galleries for exhibitions and nooks for artist talks, stay music and socially aware movie screenings. It payments itself as a “cultural sanctuary.”

However Compound is not-so-Zen today.

The nonprofit group, which opened its doorways in July, underwent layoffs in October. Three senior staffers — the director of packages and group relations, director of operations and a enterprise programs supervisor had been let go. 5 part-time customer providers associates had been laid off as properly. A number of present staff’ hours had been lower.

The workers is now right down to about half a dozen staff, although Chief Working Officer Hiroko Kusano stated through e mail that her place is being eradicated on the finish of this month.

“It’s unstable and unclear what Compound’s future seems like,” one affiliated particular person, who requested anonymity, stated.

The nonprofit is the brainchild of philanthropist and inside designer Megan Tagliaferri, who serves as each artistic director and govt director.

Tagliaferri declined a telephone interview with The Occasions for this story. She did, nevertheless, say through e mail that the latest layoffs are a part of a restructuring. “Even in good circumstances, launching a non-profit cultural middle dedicated to group affect is a problem,” Tagliaferri stated in an announcement, “however Covid challenged us much more.”

Monetary challenges introduced on by the pandemic, Tagliaferri added, “have pressured us to reduce the actions and packages right now, and lots of the workers positions had been terminated on the finish of October. Nothing about these pandemic realities dampens our enthusiasm for Compound’s long-term mission, and we hope that within the close to future we will pivot in a means that leverages the general public’s many contributions, for which we’re very grateful. Like so many others, we’re decided to make Covid only a bump within the highway, not an entire roadblock.”

Befor the layoffs, founding curator and inventive director Lauri Firstenberg — former director of the longtime West Hollywood artwork area LAXArt — departed voluntarily in August. Compound has not crammed her place, although Firstenberg stated she’s going to proceed to “stay linked” to the group.

Firstenberg stated she had by no means supposed to remain on at Compound completely, although. “It was at all times a consulting place,” the Hollywood-based Firstenberg stated. “The intention was at all times to assist understand Megan’s imaginative and prescient and open the area, after which to actually learn the way the area can serve the group finest, on the bottom in Lengthy Seaside, with native management.”

A member of the Scripps media household, Tagliaferri funded the constructing of Compound, an adaptive reuse mission, to the tune of $1.2 million. The area supposed to depend on public programming grants, present store gross sales and income from a restaurant to remain afloat. However whereas the present store is seeing gross sales of its seaweed tub kits and therapeutic crystals, the restaurant hasn’t but opened.

Tagliaferri advised The Occasions in June 2020, when Compound first introduced it could be opening, that she was “committing my assets, over time.”

When requested if that also held true, Tagliaferri stated through e mail: “I’ve dedicated private assets to this community-enriching endeavor, and I’ll proceed to take action.”

Staff have complained about Tagliaferri’s lack of transparency with regard to layoffs and programming modifications. After the yoga and meditation program was canceled in October — the free lessons had been a tentpole of Compound’s wellness mission — yoga teacher Rebekah Rose Ressler despatched an e mail to the workers.

“How am I meant to really feel comfy offering wellness providers at a corporation that has not been clear about what is occurring internally?” Ressler stated in that e mail. Ressler, who makes use of they/them pronouns, added later that of their yr of part-time employment they’d by no means met Tagliaferri.

On its web site, Compound describes itself as “a brand new area for tradition and group to advertise connectivity and belonging.” However some have questioned whether or not or not the artwork area is de facto connecting with its neighborhood in Lengthy Seaside’s Zaferia district.

As of November, Compound went from having an open-door coverage — it was free for walk-ins throughout working hours — to a free, by-appointment-only coverage. No assertion was made to the group explaining the much less accessible mandate.

Since its debut, Compound has featured immersive installations by L.A. artist Glenn Kaino that talk to empathy and hope; a lecture by land artist Lita Albuquerque about how her work pertains to meditation and creativity; and an exhibition of work, sculpture, pictures and video and movie installations, known as “Radical Empathy,” by artists together with Leslie Hewitt, EJ Hill, Rodney McMillian, Jason Moran and Rick Lowe. These works had been all culled from Tagliaferri’s private assortment.

“Radical Empathy” was meant to light up “mild on the finish of the tunnel of this second,” Firstenberg advised The Occasions final yr, referring to the pandemic.

However who will likely be left at Compound to indulge in that mild?

“We needed to downsize to climate the storm,” Tagliaferri stated. “However we nonetheless have bold plans for Compound, together with being open most Fridays-Sundays in December to see the final of Glenn Kaino’s ‘Tidepools’ earlier than the final day on December nineteenth. We’re enthusiastic about re-emerging in 2022 with extra actions, resembling wellness packages and extra content material, resembling Lauri Firstenberg’s ‘Chaos to Cosmos’ exhibit,” addressing nature and sweetness and the mysteries of the universe.”



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