LETTER: Board, ex-staff should be held accountable

As an arts lover, and someone who questioned the scope of the VCA project from the beginning, I believe the board, past and present, the former executive director and project manager should be held to further account. How did a project, conceived with a leading architect and cost analyzed by the largest construction company in the Seattle area, go from $11 million to $20 million? Certainly these were not change orders. Or did Sellen Construction have an open checkbook contract? Either way, it is ludicrous that the board gets to spin this as construction materials costs being too high. So what caused the overrun?

The truth is one of total incompetence and lack of transparency.

There are examples of how competent boards have exceeded what VCA set out to do. Bainbridge Art Museum was built between 2011 and 2013, with the same constraints of the economy and building material costs. They selected an appropriate architect and builder for the scale of the building. They achieved, within their $13 million dollar budget, a LEED Gold certified building with 20,000 square feet, a 95 seat theater, seven formal galleries, a conference room and offices, a community gallery, a bistro and patio, soaring atrium space and gift shop. Solar panels. Automatic screens to shelter art from sun damage. My friend Greg Robinson managed this project from start to finish. In addition, Bainbridge built another multi-thousand square foot building — BARN — for $6 million. In other words, two facilities for the price of our one.

No more excuses, VCA board. Raising money for a building is the easy part. Prior to accepting Kay White’s generous gift, the board should have had a long-range revenue plan in place, as well as contracted programming into the future. Without these, they had no business accepting major gifts of any size or going forward with construction.

— Priscilla O’Banion

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