Arrowmont still looks backward instead of facing the music

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts has released a statement with the quaint, long and winding title of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Potential Sale of Property Currently Being Leased to Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts by Pi Beta Phi Fraternity.

They could have saved space by calling it Clueless in Gatlinburg.

You can read this craft catechism on the School site, but here are the Arrowmont questions and my answers.

What does this mean for the future of Arrowmont?

The impending land deal and separation from Pi Beta Phi means that Arrowmont is about to be on its own for the first time in the School’s history. Arrowmont needs to scramble to find a new home, new sources of funding, and perhaps a new mission. To accomplish these goals, it needs leadership that looks forward, not backward.

Will there be workshops in 2009?

This is like asking if breakfast will be served on the Titanic.

Isn’t Arrowmont, which is a successor of the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School, a philanthropy of Pi Beta Phi Fraternity?

Yes, but not for long. The Grand Council will sell the land and give Arrowmont a parting gift of several million dollars. Arrowmont needs to estimate what it will cost to move and make the best case to Pi Phi for funding as much of that figure as possible. Arrowmont then needs to rally its Phi Phi friends and get them to pressure the Grand Council to do the right thing.

What is the status of the land and buildings at Arrowmont?

They are about to have a date with a bulldozer.

Isn’t Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts on the National Register of Historic Places?

Yes, but that means nothing. If the Parthenon and the Sphinx were in Gatlinburg, developers would knock them down to build more shops that specialize in gimcrackery.

Does the fact that the property contains two National Historic Districts affect what can be done with the property?

Nope.

What are the developers planning for the Arrowmont property?

The mind boggles at the thought, but you can be sure of this: the property will be designed so as to extract the maximum amount of revenue from anyone who sets foot on it.

Is there a chance the new owner might allow Arrowmont to stay?

Yes. If Arrowmont changes its mission to body art and printing T-shirts and running a wedding chapel, there is a chance the School could stay.

How much is the land being sold for and has Arrowmont been given the opportunity to purchase it?

Dream on. We are talking dozens of millions of dollars here.

What does this mean for the relationship of Pi Beta Phi and Arrowmont?

Is Arrowmont in a financial crisis?

Big time. For the first time in its history, Arrowmont can no longer lease its land for $1 a year. The School will get a parting gift from Pi Beta Phi, but that money will probably not cover all the costs of a move. That’s why the School needs to look forward–not back–at how it can survive, where it can go, and how it can reinvent itself.

How can I help?

Insist that the Arrowmont board of directors wake up and look forward. Either that or start planning the funeral.

* * *

This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

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