After sudden closure, Santa Fe’s Center for Contemporary Arts reopens

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The Center for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in Santa Fe, which closed abruptly in April, seemingly for good, has reopened in a reduced capacity. Community donations sent to the centre in the aftermath of its closure have enabled it to reopen its cinema, according to an announcement shared by the CCA’s board, which also cites a “heartfelt, generous outpouring of support” from the local community.

Founded in 1979, CCA became a vital part of the Santa Fe arts community, known in particular for its robust programming of independent and international films. It also organised contemporary art exhibitions, the last being Self-Determined, a group exhibition of 13 contemporary Native American and Indigenous artists.

The centre’s sudden closure on 6 April followed a period of financial precarity due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as a decline in attendance. The centre’s inability to sustain operations amid the abundance of streaming services ultimately led its board of directors to vote to close the organisation, despite a last-minute fundraising attempt, resulting in 14 full-time job cuts. But CCA had also been plagued by “a culture of instability”, former deputy director April Chalay told Hyperallergic in April, with at least 11 different directors leading the non-profit over its last two decades.

Chalay also suggested that CCA’s final executive director and head curator Danyelle Means—the first Indigenous person appointed to that position—did not receive support for her vision. “Not many people will voice ‘I don’t like this because it’s turning brown-er or younger’, but that’s absolutely what happened when the CCA found [Means],” Chalay told Hyperallergic. “We had people who started criticising us and saying, ‘Your director is Indigenous and you’re doing an Indigenous show, are you just going to be an Indigenous arts org? Because that’s not what I want to give to.’” Means, who is a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, co-curated Self-Determined, and under her leadership the centre obtained a three-year Ford Foundation grant of $100,000 per year.

The CCA Cinema is now operating with Paul Barnes, a former board member, as general manager, but is not yet fully staffed, and has yet to announce its reopening on social media. The board is now seeking potential partners to help it maintain operations and potentially develop additional public programming.

“The strategic partners under consideration will represent a new direction for CCA’s gallery space, and the board is excited about the potential for expanded programming at CCA,” the announcement reads.

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