Delray’s Arts Garage has a new leader to guide the downtown cultural nonprofit and a new five-year lease from the city.
The board of directors selected Marjorie Waldo to lead the way as president and chief executive officer and the nonprofit secured a new lease from the city.
Waldo is a former school principal and education consultant who has managed large budgets, developed strategic plans for nonprofits and increased funding through grant writing and fundraising.
It is those skills and her tie to the community that she says will help her succeed in her new role.
“This place is already magic,” she said of the Arts Garage.
Changing leaders is something that commissioners asked the Arts Garage board to do. The nonprofit was reprimanded by commissioners and Community Redevelopment Agency board members several times due to issues with a prior director.
Issues included not informing commissioners about an expansion into Pompano Beach, which has since been separated, and not asking commissioners whether adding co-working spaces is permissible. The nonprofit also had funds from the agency withheld until they could sort out how money was being spent.
Over the past year, the group has been working through those issues and negotiating a new lease with the city.
Waldo said she plans to move ahead. She said she plans to be transparent with the commission and CRA, communicate honestly and report any records.
Other goals of Waldo’s include building community outreach and education.
That is a challenge that city commissioners have posed to the nonprofit.
At a recent city meeting that discussed a new lease, the group was accused of being a “white supper club” by the mayor. Commissioners challenged the group to add more diversity and a board member awkwardly stated they have a black woman serving on the board. A majority of the programming at the Arts Garage has ties to ethnic roots, such as the jazz and rhythm and blues performances.
Waldo said just because a performer is of a certain ethnicity doesn’t mean that is a performance that the community is interested in seeing.
“It’s up to us to find out what will work,” she said. “I am willing to have hard conversations, hear new ideas.”
She said she plans to reach out to the Set and other parts of the city to find out what types of performances they want to see. She also said she wants to take events on the road to different parts of the city and partner with local schools.
Under the new lease agreement, the Arts Garage will be able to use the venue for fundraising efforts and rent out the space to receive some extra money. The city limited how many times per year the venue can be rented out.