Lori Sturgess has taken a leave of absence from her position as director of the Norcross Arts Center, also known as The Nest.
As director of the incubator for a year and a half, Sturgess said she was sad to let it go in December, but had to because of financial reasons and lack of support.
During the later part of 2012, Sturgess and Gwinnett arts advocate G.G. Getz went before the Norcross City Council at policy work sessions to explain the importance of having a Norcross Arts Commission funded by the city.
"I think the goal of having an arts commission is something that needs to happen if Norcross wants to be an artist community," she told Patch.
The proposal also suggests having a paid arts director, which Sturgess was willing to fill. This past December, though, the council tabled the issue so that they could discuss it further at the annual city council retreat in January.
"Once city council decided to table the idea of an arts commission ... it became obvious that I wasn't a fit [to be the director] ," she said. "It was really unfortunate because I think we started something really special [at the Nest]."
From October 2011 to January 2012, Sturgess spearheaded the effort to renovate the old Rectory at 17 College St. to make it an incubator for art tenants, special events and exhibitions.
The arts center gained some tenants under Sturgess' direction, but despite the finances paid through the artists' rental spaces, the incubator ran out of funding in December 2011. Sturgess resorted in picking up some of the costs using her own finances.
Additionally, despite the number of exhibitions held at the center, the foot traffic for events tended to lack in size.
Since Sturgess' leave of absence, Lionheart Theatre Co. and its director, Tanya Caldwell, held an open house at the center this past Saturday to show people know its new arts venture. The theatre company had storytelling, live music, a play reading and art on display from local artists at the event.
Sturgess said if the city reconsiders the commission and offers her the paid position, she still would be willing to do it.
"I'd be more than happy to take it [the Nest] over again and do it right," she said. "I think we were on the right track. I always have. I just needed more help."
Currently, Sturgess is pursuing her sculpting with her design studio, Recentered Pieces. She also finished "TalkTalkTalk," the new garden sculpture of salvaged phones that is located in Heritage Park next to the arts center.
Editor's note: This article originally stated that Lionheart Theatre and director Tanya Caldwell had taken over the Norcross Arts Center. This information is incorrect; it has only been proposed for the threatre company to take over the lease for the building for it to use. We apologize for the confusion.
- Ribbon Cutting for Norcross Garden Sculpture is Saturday