I bet most of you know what the letters PRC stand for: Photographic Resource Center, a member-based non profit for the photo community in Boston and the region. In existence for over 30 years. And about to go down.

In its various locations and forms over the years it has held a very high place in the hierarchy of non profit arts organizations and has had some really wonderful programs and exhibits. Although housed on the campus of Boston University, BU has never provided much else than a free space and occasional use of one of its buildings for a lecture or an auction. 

Quite simply, the PRC's demise will be because it has nothing to sustain it financially. You cannot maintain an arts organization on memberships alone and the PRC has no endowment, no major sponsors, no continuing granting, no major donors with which to pay its staff or to fund its programming. So, it will go. Close its doors and be a memory soon.

Or not.

A couple of weeks ago a group of past and present board members, past executive directors, and concerned people met at a friends house to discuss the situation and to propose possible strategies to keep the PRC afloat and to investigate new systemsBu by which it could be continue and be sustainable.

The results of that meeting were twofold. Two working groups are now meeting to explore separate ideas that are united in the common pursuit of a PRC that would continue. These are not competitive proposals but both seek to explore the chance that one might succeed. One is grassroots based, working to see if a new structure can be built that relies less on paid staff and more on volunteerism, interns and a flexible model for programming. The other seeks to affiliate the PRC with someplace else, to merge it with an organization that can benefit from the model of "two down to one" to streamline costs and to increase effectiveness of publicity and funding efforts. 

Will one of these work? I sincerely hope so. The history and legacy of the PRC is far too rich and varied to see it just fade away due to no money. These are very different times than when the PRC started out. The nature of public support of non profits is a far different geography than then and photography itself is a very different discipline too. Part of the PRC's failure was that it didn't predict and move along with these changes. As a board member for 6 years and an executive committee member for many of those, I shoulder some of that responsibility.

One of the hits the PRC has taken in recent months is that it has not communicated with its members. This is true, as there has been no staff to keep communication     flowing. But I believe there is a large group of active and involved people who would interpret the PRC going dark as a real loss to the area. This is a simply wonderful organization that has done tremendous good over the years. I am writing this blog  this morning to try to help people know what is happening and to ask for their patience and support at a time when many are working to try to keep the PRC in existence.

Feel free to share this blog with others and/or to communicate with me directly at: Neal's email

Topics: Commentary

Permalink | Posted May 12, 2014