Feats of Clay not going anywher

By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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Depending on who’s talking, a group of arts supporters either wants to take away the nonprofit Lincoln Arts’ annual Feats of Clay fundraiser or help it. Lincoln Arts members and Gladding McBean employees have differing opinions about whether Lincoln Arts accusations that a recent petition given to Lincoln Arts is founded by a desire to take over Feats of Clay and privatize the popular event. Gladding McBean is the venue and host for the annual Feats of Clay. A petition signed by 200 arts supporters asked for independent annual financial and management audits. The petition was delivered July 2 to the Lincoln Arts office at 580 Sixth St. Lincoln Arts president June Reeves made a statement in the Aug. 15 News Messenger (page A7) that a group of petition-signers is trying to take away Feats of Clay to make money. “None whatsoever” was Dan Cross’ response when asked if there is any truth to Reeves’ statement. Cross is a general sales manager for Gladding, McBean. His wife, Jean Cross, signed the petition. Jean Cross worked for Gladding McBean as a sculptor “on and off” from 2001 to 2007, according to Jean Cross. “Gladding, McBean only allows the facility to be used because it’s a charitable nonprofit organization,” Dan Cross said. “There have been no discussions with anyone to change it and we wouldn’t allow it.” Another reason Gladding, McBean allows Lincoln Arts to hold Feats of Clay is because the event “promotes art and culture in our community,” according to Dan Cross, and “Gladding, McBean wants to be a part” of the community. “We have had no conversations with anyone regarding this topic,” Cross said. “Anybody that claims that there have ever been discussion to change the ownership of Feats of Clay is misinformed because it never happened.” Lincoln Arts member Mike Daley, who signed the petition requesting an external audit of Lincoln Arts, made similar statements. “I can assure you that will never happen because Gladding, McBean will pull out of it before someone takes over Feats of Clay,” Daley said. “Feats of Clay was started by Lincoln Arts and should remain and stay with Lincoln Arts.” A July 19 article (front page, “Lincoln Arts asked for audits”) also resulted in a comment on the online version of the story stating that petition signers have a “vendetta” to take over Feats of Clay. “I have a feeling that the vendetta is a smoke screen to divert the questions at hand and that is to have the audit done,” Daley said. Daley doesn’t “understand the hesitancy” on Lincoln Arts’ part to have the audit done. “If they think there is a vendetta now, they can eliminate any question of a vendetta if they have an audit done,” Daley said. “If they have an audit, it eliminates concerns, any questions by the public.” Contributions to Lincoln Arts “would most likely increase without any question upon completion of an external audit,” according to Daley. “It’s beyond me why they wouldn’t have an audit done to clarify their compliance with required reporting,” Daley said. “I only see a plus. They’re making it a negative and they’re diverting a lot of the effort to have an audit done by blaming everyone else.” The News Messenger asked Reeves for a response to Dan Cross’ comments Wednesday morning, saying that anyone claiming that there’s been discussion to change ownership of Feats of Clay “is misinformed.” “I’m not misinformed because I believe the person who told me,” Reeves said. She would not name that person “to protect my source.” Reeves was also asked if the “vendetta” is a smoke screen, per Daley’s comments above. “Vendetta is a big word and we’re not throwing up a smoke screen. Our books are open,” Reeves said.