The Latibah Collard Green Museum, dedicated to art representing the African-American experience, has closed its doors at 720 Tuckaseegee Road because of financial challenges, executive director T’Afo Feimster said.
Feimster opened the museum in NoDa in 2009, but after a flood severely damaged the building, he moved to the current location. That building, a former distribution center, held great appeal because of its potential for renovation, he said. “Being the artist that I am, it was just like a blank canvas for me,” he said.
“We came in with a budget knowing the things that we needed to do to renovate,” Feimster said, but code and structural requirements complicated the project. The museum did not open at its second location until a year later, in February 2014.
Feimster blamed the current financial problems on the long delay and added expenses. After its reopening, the museum was making progress and becoming more popular, but not enough, he said.
The museum charged $5-$7 in entrance fees, but he said it needed more diverse funding sources.
“Attendance does not make the finances,” Feimster said. He believes the museum needs steady support from other sources, such as grants, fundraisers, membership and programming.
Feimster is now creating a “vision team” to establish more permanent and sustainable financing. The team consists of himself and four others dedicated to fundraising, but he is searching for additional team members with financial and marketing knowledge.
While the museum searches for a new location, it will continue to run its outreach programs Latibah Alive, Latibah Talk and Latibah Learn out of an office space. Art from the museum’s exhibits will stay in storage during the transition, which Feimster expects to last six months to a year.
The museum housed multiple exhibits, installations and three studios, two available for lease to local artists and one occupied by resident artist Tommie Robinson.
He will move his studio to the old location of Charlotte’s Afro-American Cultural Center, now owned by Little Rock AME Zion Church. Robinson doesn’t know if he will return to the Collard Green Museum, he said.
Although this is the museum’s second time without a home, Feimster remains optimistic: “We’re not gone. We’re resetting.”
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