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Austin Film Society fires back

Wednesday, July 18, 2018 by Chad Swiatecki

Austin Film Society CEO Rebecca Campbell didn’t mince words at Monday’s Arts Commission meeting, calling a recent Austin American-Statesman story about the organization’s financial health overly aggressive and misleading. A July 10 story cited minutes from the AFS April board meeting that found the AFS Cinema facility that was opened in 2017 has not performed well financially and will likely need ongoing charitable giving to remain open. Campbell didn’t dispute the numbers in the Statesman story but questioned its tactics in using “unapproved meeting minutes leaked by a disgruntled staff member.” She told the commission: “The Statesman told a story that suggested AFS was not straightforward with the public about our finances. They suggest that a discussion in a board meeting about the organization’s financial challenges, and a board’s instructions to the CEO on discussing them before going to the public with them, is somehow inappropriate. Having our meeting turn into a front-page story hurts AFS, but I think it hurts the entire arts community. The Statesmans choice in making assumptions about AFS’s financial stewardship and public relations based on confidential minutes is aggressive and misleading, and it encourages the public to jump to the conclusion that support of the arts is not a legitimate use of public funds, when in fact the prosperity and vibrancy of our community relies on its arts people.”

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