Portland’s Newspace Center for Photography Closes

Posted by on Wednesday July 12, 2017 | Fine Art

The Newspace Center for Photography, the nonprofit studio and exhibition space in Portland, closed July 7, four days after the directors announced the news on its Facebook page. At a public meeting on July 10, members of the board of directors said Newspace Center for Photography owed $150,000 to vendors, and would be unable to make its payroll or pay its monthly rent of $5,000. Students who had enrolled in classes scheduled for this summer will not receive refunds on their tuition, according to Oregon Business.

Founded in 2002, Newspace Center offered photography classes, provided darkrooms and studio space and hosted exhibitions by regional and national photographers. Since the closing, staff and instructors have been laid off.

Oregon Live reported that at the July 10 meeting, treasurer Steve G. Stegeman said, “We ran out of money.” Board member Bob Hestand said the financial problems came to the board’s attention only “two weeks ago,” according to Oregon Business.

Newspace Center has been supported with grants, class fees, entry fees to juried exhibitions and individual donations. According to its 2015 tax return—the most recent tax return available to the public—income from grants, donations and program fees had declined 9.4 percent since the previous year. Expenses had increased only 0.4 percent, and it ended 2015 with a deficit of $10,703. Hestand and Stegeman did not specifically explain how their deficit had increased so much in two years, but they told the audience that class registrations had declined recently, and individual donations had also fallen off. (The nonprofit’s tax returns from 2011 to 2015 are available on Charity Navigator.)

In 2014, the space held a successful crowd-funding campaign that raised $25,000 to help pay for a full-time curator and start a guest speaker program.

Hestand told the crowd at the July 10 meeting, “We’ve unfortunately added to that long list of arts organizations that have had to do just this — close the doors.”