Local arts organization Seattle Arts & Lectures laid off three employees yesterday, Board President Mary Ingraham confirmed. "We are in the middle of reorganizing, and we are recrafting a strategic plan," Ingraham said over the phone a few minutes ago. "Right now, that means we need to downsize in order to create a healthy organization."
Ingraham, who notes that the layoffs were "in no way performance-based," said it came down to money: "Now, we're in a position to move forward." The layoffs weren't specifically in one department, not that SAL even has enough employees to warrant specific departments—"We're all one room," Ingraham said. She insists that SAL's many programs—their lecture series, their poetry series, and their wonderful Writers in the Schools program—will continue. These layoffs come less than one month after SAL Executive Director Linda Bowers left the organization, as Christopher Frizzelle reported here on Slog two weeks ago. These layoffs also come at a time when the organization is preparing for its next year. (SAL determines the next season of their popular readings series in January, February and March.) When asked about whether the programs will continue exactly as they have been, or if they'll face restructuring, Ingraham said "we haven’t gotten into the heft of that yet.”
SAL is currently producing its best programming in years. Recent speakers include Dean Young, Eileen Myles and Maggie Nelson, and Hari Kunzru. Upcoming readers include Miranda July, Nick Flynn, Joan Didion, and Susan Orlean. As Christopher noted, the organization has lately felt reinvigorated.
We'll continue to report on Seattle Arts & Lectures' future right here on Slog.