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I must make some corrections to your recent story about the Maitland Art Center (“The art of the deal,” Oct. 14).

1) The attorneys were not “hired” – all three donated their services via the Rollins College Center for Philanthropy pro bono program, and each represented well and most vigorously, the interests of his respective client (Maitland Historical, Maitland Art and United Arts).

2) I was not personally hired for $10,000. The contract (and money) went to United Arts – $5,000 of the funding came from the City of Maitland, $5,000 from the Community Foundation of Central Florida.

We were contracted to undertake a series of meetings to discuss strategic alliances between the two organizations – for the first four months of the conversation the word “merger” was not used. From May to December of 2009, members from both boards met regularly, 22 hours in total. They were constantly reporting back to, and receiving feedback from, their respective boards. It was another six months before the merger was finalized. This was hardly done in haste.

3) While some of these meetings were private, they were not secret. Notes from all of these meetings, outlining the conversational progress, were made available to everyone attending the public information sessions and to the reporter who wrote this story. None of the organizations involved are subject to the state’s Sunshine Laws, but every attempt was made to be as open as possible as the idea of a “merger” took hold. The idea of combining $1 million in the bank, land that must be used for a gallery and the dream of a museum devoted to Andre Smith and his legacy excited both boards. MAHA is now one of the 10 largest cultural institutions in the region, which will help its stability and fundraising.

With everyone’s support, this dream can become a reality. Over time, I believe the naysayers will see that their dream did not die with the merger – it was electrified and enhanced. People who care about either organization shouldn’t “wait and see” – they should get involved and make the dream a reality.

Margot Knight
President and CEO
United Arts of Central Florida, Maitland

I commend Lindy Shepherd for a well-written piece on Maitland Art Center.  Many members, however, take exception to the notion that membership approval was not required for the merger with the Maitland Historical Society because lawyers determined the center “was not a public charitable trust, but owned by the city of Maitland.” 

The determining court document from 1969, a final judgment, states that the center was sold to the city of Maitland as a “public charitable trust,” with the city as the sole “trustee” with specific responsibilities and limitations. 

One important limitation, specified on the last page of the document, is the decree that the city does not have the right to sell any of the property – land, structures or artwork – without the approval of the court.   One needs to read the original court document in order to verify the facts. 

In addition, the May 4, 2010, letter the membership received from Mr. Diaz, former chairman of the board of trustees, states they are striving to serve the community’s cultural needs “while insuring the operation of the Maitland Art Center as a public trust.” It’s these types of conflicting statements and actions that have led to the emotional turmoil that many Maitland Art Center members feel about the merger, not “fear of change.”    

Gayle Bell, Winter Park

Down to eArth

A well-written article, the finest I’ve seen by far, on the man who should, but won’t, be Florida’s next governor (“Reality check,” 
Oct. 21).

Michael Arth is a true Renaissance man, bursting with ideas and solutions for the state, the country and the world. I’ve had the pleasure and honor of meeting him and engaging in brief discussion – and also the pleasure and honor of supporting his candidacy for governor.

Unfortunately, in the bizarre and frightening culture we find ourselves in, he is too intelligent, down-to-earth and issues-oriented to stand a chance. However, I will be voting 
my conscience.

Flo Goodman, via

Correction: The recent cover story about the Maitland Art Center contained some inaccuracies. Margot Knight, as she writes in her letter above, was not personally hired to negotiate a merger between the Maitland Art Center and the Maitland Historical Society; rather, United Arts of Central Florida was hired to help facilitate discussions about the potential for alliances between the two organizations. Also, as Knight points out, the lawyers who worked on sorting out the historical documents and legal paperwork tied to the center donated their time. Orlando Weekly regrets the errors.

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