December 20, 2014

Brookfield Craft Center suspends operations

Brookfield Craft Center Mill Building.

The Brookfield Craft Center, which has been in operation since 1954 and at one time had a satellite facility in South Norwalk, announced yesterday afternoon, June 27, that it was suspending operations. The center released the following statement:

Since its founding by Nancy Hagmayer in 1954, the Craft Center has offered a broad range of classes and provided an exhibition and retail outlet for American craft artists. Pending the outcome of talks with potential partners, Brookfield Craft Center is suspending operations at its historic campus in the Four Corners district of Brookfield. After almost sixty years of serving the craft community, the Center has been unable to overcome its financial challenges and lacks revenues sufficient to fund its basic operating costs.

This comes three years after a provisional shut-down in 2010. At that time, a reprieve in the form of a substantial foundation grant and the support of individual Board members allowed the organization to resume its programs. But ultimately, in a still weakened economy and a more challenging market for craft education, a sustainable level of income from programs, grants and contributions has proven to be beyond its reach.

The Board continues to seek proposals from potential partners or supporters. Should no viable partner emerge, the organization will undertake the sale of its assets and close permanently. It is anticipated that in this situation a combination of Board contributions and the sale of assets would enable the Craft Center to fund the process of closing and fulfill its obligations to students, faculty, consignors and other suppliers. The properties include the landmark Mill building plus four others on the Still River and the former railway station,

Jim Degen, Board President and longtime faculty member said “We have not yet given up on finding a way to go forward fulfilling the Brookfield Craft Center mission, but we are painfully aware that the current mode of operation cannot continue. I deeply regret that it has come to this, but the Board cannot not allow the organization to continue operating at a loss and incur debts it is unable to satisfy.”

All education and gallery operations have shut down, with the exception of one weaving class that will run through its scheduled session ending July 16. The Good Forge blacksmithing studio will be kept available for the artist producing a monument commemorating the Four Corners historic ironworks district. Acting Executive Director Barbara Prete and a skeleton staff are administering the suspension of operations, including the cancellation of classes and return of consigned work to gallery artists.