Fletcher Farm Arts School takes 2024 off to retool after financial troubles

A double rainbow over the Fletcher Farm School. Photo by Fletcher Farm staff.

The Society of Vermont Artists and Craftsmen, parent group of the Fletcher Farm School for the Arts & Crafts in Ludlow, announced that the organization is facing a pivotal financial crossroads that is threatening its ability to continue operating in 2024 and beyond.

After years of declining enrollment exacerbated by unforeseen circumstances like the pandemic and recent flooding, SOVAC leadership concluded that the organization can no longer rely primarily on tuition fees to stay solvent. Additionally, recent wire fraud impacted Fletcher Farm’s accounts, presenting another financial hurdle.

“We have weathered our share of storms during Fletcher Farm School’s 76-year history, but this convergence of factors has truly put us in triage mode,” said Susan Damone Balch, SOVAC
board chair and current head of Fletcher Farm’s daily operations. “Our latest financial review shows that tuition alone cannot sustain our organization at prior levels going forward.”

As a result of the financial uncertainty, the SOVAC board has chosen to pause all in-person
programming during 2024 to focus urgently on long-term strategic planning. This project seeks to chart a bold new vision and business model to allow Fletcher Farm to reopen sustainably in 2025.

Several long-term board members have stepped down, and Vermont nonprofit law requires that key board positions be in place for Fletcher Farm to legally continue existing. Without new candidates stepping forward for imminent board elections in May 2024, dissolution becomes a reality.

“We are committed to emerging from this stronger than ever with innovative arts education that opens new doors for learners of all ages and abilities,” said Balch. “But we cannot do it without an infusion of financial support and volunteer leadership in the coming weeks and months.”

Since 1947, Fletcher Farm has provided more than 100 fine art and traditional craft workshops annually from its historic property on Route 103, serving more than 300 adult and youth students each year. Course offerings span creative disciplines like writing, metal working, fiber arts, photography and Shaker box making.

Community members interested in supporting Fletcher Farm’s mission have several options:

  • Volunteer to fill a vacant board leadership position
  • Make a year-end financial contribution to help bridge the income gap
  • Participate in strategic planning efforts and other professional services pro bono

Those interested in helping should e-mail Susan Balch or call her at 802-228-8770.


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About the Author: This item was edited from one or more press releases submitted to The Chester Telegraph.

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