Nashville’s Rainbow Community Center’s board of directors has voted to dissolve the organization and give more than $5,000 in cash and assets to OutLoud Books and Gifts.
The funds represent what was left in a capital campaign fund that had been established several years ago to hopefully one day build a permanent home for the RCC.
Outgoing board president Gary White made the announcement in a press release, where he said the move was part of a changing community and its needs.
“The Board of Directors determined that sufficient financial resources and volunteer leadership were not present to enable the organization to continue serving the LGBT community as a vibrant entity,” the release said. “In keeping with the original intent of Nashville Lambda Communications, all assets have been transferred to Outloud Books and Gifts in recognition of their long-term commitment and support of the LGBT community of Nashville.”
OutLoud Books and Gifts owner Ted Jensen said the assets would be given back to non-profits in the community. He said several months ago OutLoud had planned on starting a community foundation and community center, but found that much like RCC had found, little interest from the community.
White was asked about transferring the assets from a non-profit organization to a for-profit retail store, and said the remaining board members felt Outloud’s defacto place and role in the broader Nashville GLBT community most closely matches the original intent and mission of Nashville Lambda Communications.
“When we met with a consultant from the Center for Nonprofit Management we asked, specifically, this question as to whether or not funds and donations could be transferred to a for-profit business,” White said. “The truth of the matter is, legally, there are very few limitations on what the board may do with the assets as long as no Board member benefits from the transfer. Since the funds were raised to provide a ‘brick and mortar’ meeting place for all members of the GLBT community, no other alcohol & smoke free entity in Nashville provides such a service other than Outloud. While numerous GLBT not-for-profits do tremendous community work, they simply cater to a specific sector of our community (NAPP, One-In-Teen, etc.) or the focus of their activity is single-event oriented (PRIDE) or they are political in nature (TEP). Outloud serves our entire community as a resource and gathering space most everyday of the year (other than when closed for holidays). Outloud has also proven itself to be good stewards of the donations as, for example, they passed along the former RCC resource library to One-In-Teen.”
The RCC board currently consists of April Baker, Marisa Richmond, and White (two members of the clergy and a PhD).
“We wanted to do the, ‘smart, ethical and moral’ thing,” White said.
The decision comes after almost more than two years of soul-searching by the board of directors, which consulted with community leaders and groups about the need for a community center. On January 31, 2004, the board discontinued funding its paid executive director position, citing a poor economic climate and a recent downward trend of contributions to non-profit organizations as the primary reasons for the decision.
“The funds that we are turning over to OutLoud would have been completely exhausted years ago had we not stopped withdrawing daily operating expenses from the capital campaign funds,” White said. “That fiscal responsibility is what lead directly to the closing of the Woodland Street site and Joyce Arnold’s resignation.”
Arnold was the executive director of the RCC.
“After extensive consultation with the broader LGBT community of Nashville, including many organizations, individuals and donors, the Board of Directors of Nashville Lambda Communications (d.b.a. Rainbow Community Center) unanimously approved dissolution of the organization,” said officials in the release.
The RCC has existed in some form for almost 18 years – it once had a long-time home in Berry Hill, and more recently moved to 961 Woodland Street. That physical facility shut down a few years ago due to a lack of funds and staffing.
“All of the members of the Board of Directors appreciate the community for its feedback as well as its many years of support of the organization,” White said.