Maitland arts merge

The chapel at the Maitland Art Center, a former artist colony, is pictured above. The Center, located on Packwood Avenue, has merged with the city's historical entity.

The chapel at the Maitland Art Center, a former artist colony, is pictured above. The Center, located on Packwood Avenue, has merged with the city's historical entity.

Jenny Andreasson

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The Maitland Art Association and the Maitland Historical Society are moving full-speed ahead on becoming a seamless organization, with budget talks starting next week.

The boards unanimously voted to merge the organizations on May 12 after about a year of studies and meetings facilitated by United Arts of Central Florida President Margot Knight and collecting citizen feedback. Its new name is the Maitland Art and History Association.

"It's really an expansion," said Andrea Cox, executive director of the Maitland Historical Society. "We're not diluting the mission."

She said the names of the museums will not change, and there will be new additions, including a combined campus and possibly a new museum building.

The Maitland Art Center, a former artist colony built by Andre Smith, is surrounded by the Maitland Historical Museum and the Telephone Museum on Packwood Avenue. The Waterhouse Residence Museum and the Carpentry Shop Museum are located at Lake Lily.

Now the work begins — putting together one budget, one staff and one board. They will present their budget at a Maitland City Council workshop on July 12.

"The budget will be sort of the same if the two organizations were combined," Chairman Victor Diaz said.

Both the Art Association and Historical Society receive the majority of their funding from the city, $309,000 and $182,000 respectively — that's after a 5 percent cut last year requested by the city.

The city could ask the new organization to make cuts to its combined budget or it could remain at the current level of funding with a promise that more grant dollars will start to flow down in the future, Maitland Mayor Doug Kinson said.

"With a larger organization, there will be more grant dollars and funding opportunities than we may realize today," Kinson said.

Cox agreed.

"Certainly, the goal long-term is to reduce the city's contribution in respect to the overall budget," she said. "There will be one-time merger costs like new logos so we don't expect to see cost savings in the first few months. But we see a lot of long-term cost efficiencies."

A task force is working to come up with an operations and maintenance plan that retains the current talent and expertise levels, but also eliminates any redundancies.

"The next step is for the two groups to roll up their sleeves and sit down and determine where those efficiencies lie," Kinson said.

The new organization will save costs by cutting down on marketing cost and operations. It has about 18 employees, many of whom are part time, Cox said. To save money, the consolidated organization will only have one executive director.

The board hasn't decided if they'll undergo a national search or a local one for the new organization's leader, Diaz said.

Pre-merge, the organizations' leases for the museum properties owned by the city were extended through October. The leases will be condensed to one after that expires.

Cox wants to remind members and residents that the merger talk didn't start because the organizations wanted to save money.

"It was something to do that would make the mission of both organizations stronger, to better serve the community," she said.