Future of Lawrence House still in doubt

GIFT WELL USED  Bryan Trothen of the Lawrence House, seen here with Norman and Judith Alix after they announced the $50,000 donation for the center for the arts, says the group has paid off all its debts but now is concerned about future funding.

GIFT WELL USED Bryan Trothen of the Lawrence House, seen here with Norman and Judith Alix after they announced the $50,000 donation for the center for the arts, says the group has paid off all its debts but now is concerned about future funding.

Lawrence House Centre for the Arts is debt free, but officials are worried about the future.

The Lawrence House closed its doors around Christmas after the bank froze its accounts because of outstanding debt to Revenue Canada. The group went to Sarnia Council looking for loan to reopen the house while the board looked for a solution.

While Bryan Trothen, president of the board, spoke to council, Norman and Judith Alix who were in the audience indicated they would be giving Lawrence House $50,000 to help clear the debt and put the group on firm footing. “The Alix donation was very important enabled us to get us out a drastic amount of debt,” says Trothen. “It gave us breathing room, it’s just a matter of how much breathing room.”

Trothen says the group immediately reopened the doors but it incurs about $5,000 expenses a month to run the house. There is some income from the arts programs it runs, however Trothen says generally they cover the costs of the program with only a small profit.

“We think we’re good probably until the end of April,” says Trothen. “The few sources of revenue we have…will keep us going that long.”

Lawrence House has been looking for other sources of income. There is hope for a federal grant for Crudimentary Tales but Trothen says that will take six months to process.

And the board has been talking to other groups, including Harmony, the city, and the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery, about working together. But Trothen says the big problem remains lack of money.

“If there is more time, we could pull things together better than we are and if we had money…always the crucial ingredient,” he says.

Trothen says the board has committed to running its programs up to April 12. Then on April 17, the board will host its Annual General meeting and ask for ideas from its voting members on sources of funding and a future direction.

“I know there are a number of ideas out there how refined they are I don’t know,” says Trothen. “But hopefully someone will be out there with an idea for the future.”

– Heather Wright

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