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Charlotte Art League selects new leader, board of directors amid financial turmoil

The Charlotte Art League is in a precarious position after receiving a notice of eviction from the owner of its building on Raleigh Street.
Nick de la Canal
The Charlotte Art League has occupied its building on Raleigh Street in east Charlotte since 2022.

The Charlotte Art League has named a new executive director and board of directors following months of internal turmoil and financial uncertainty within the nonprofit arts organization.

The new six-person board was elected by League members this month after the organization's previous 13-person board resigned en masse in December. Many said they had lost trust in Executive Director Jim Dukes.

In an email update to members this week, the Charlotte Art League said its new board met for the first time on Tuesday and named Kate McAllister as the league's interim executive director.

McAllister has been a longtime supporter of the organization, and previously served as its director of operations from 2019 to 2022, the email said.

As of Thursday afternoon, Jim Dukes was still listed as the Charlotte Art League's executive director on its website. Dukes did not immediately return requests for comment.

Organization faces possible eviction amid $200K in unpaid rent

The nonprofit arts organization, founded in 1965, moved into its cream-colored building on Raleigh Street in 2022. There, it has housed artist studios, an art gallery and an event space. There were also plans to build a podcast studio and a green space in the building.

As WFAE previously reported, the organization received an eviction notice in February after falling behind on rent, and told members it was "investigating other options, should our current space no longer be available."

But the organization also said its hands were tied after its entire 13-member board of directors resigned in late 2023.

Multiple members of the previous board told WFAE they resigned following a Zoom call in late November during which Dukes, then the executive director, said he had known the organization had fallen nearly $200,000 behind in rent, but had kept that information from the board.

Board members didn't learn about the unpaid balance until the building's management company, Trinity Partners, contacted the board in early November.

In a statement to WFAE, Dukes denied the board members' allegations, calling them "false and defamatory," but did not comment further.

Rebuilding trust, finances

One of the most pressing issues the League's new leadership will face is sorting through the organization's finances and meeting with the building's management company and its owner, Flywheel Partners.

It's unclear if the organization is facing a move-out deadline or if a deal can be struck with the building's owner. Flywheel Partners did not immediately return requests for comment.

The League's new board will be led by Bo Claudill as its president. Brent Finnell will serve as first vice president, Syreeta Carter as second vice president, Lianna Rossman as treasurer, Adam Tolbert as secretary, and Melanie Dunston as member at large.

The organization sounded hopeful in its message this week to members announcing the leadership change.

"Our new board and director are excited for the opportunity to bring Charlotte Art League into a new chapter of success," the message said. "We are confident that along with our new board, Kate (McAllister) will help to lead our organization in the right direction."

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Nick de la Canal is an on air host and reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal