Lannan Foundation Announces Plan to Close by 2032

Org dedicated to cultural freedom, diversity and creativity says it “never intended to operate in perpetuity”

After more than 60 years of events, lectures, grants and residencies, Santa Fe’s Lannan Foundation announced today that it will begin phasing out of existence over the next decade. It will also close its Lannan Residency Program in Marfa, Texas, which has hosted over 360 artist fellows over the last 20 years. For now, the Indigenous Communities Program, which provides funding to rural Native communities for project work, language preservation and more, will continue.

Over the years, Lannan has hosted events and residencies with innumerable cultural powerhouses, including poet Joy Harjo, writer-activist Alice Walker, filmmaker Boots Riley, activist Angela Davis and far too many more to list here. To help with the slow trudge to non-existence, the foundation has named board member Brenda Coughlin to the executive director position as of April 1, and the release also notes the foundation plans to “spend out all assets,” over the next 10 years.

The foundation was established in 1960 by J. Patrick Lannan Sr., and organization leader Patrick Lannan, who has been onboard since 1986, said in a press statement that, “We see this accelerated spend out as an evolution, not a deviation. We never intended to operate in perpetuity, and we want to have the greatest impact we can right now.”

Lannan’s 2022 season is already underway, though its March 30 presentation with John Edgar Wideman and Mitchell S. Jackson was postponed to an as-yet undisclosed date later this year. Upcoming events with poet Arthur Sze and author Forrest Gardner (May 11) and poets Terrance Hayes and Tim Seibles (Oct. 19) are all reportedly still on track across the rest of 2022. As for whether the foundation’s extensive online archive featuring events with past participants, including audio, photography and video will live on, Executive Vice President and Director of Administration Frank C. Lawler tells SFR, “that is something we’re looking at.”

“It’s like they say in the arts world—it’s a work in progress,” Lawler continues. “We really have to sit own and analyze the direction we’re going in. We’ve been considering this for some time and working on strategies for the process; we’ve supported a lot of grantees over the years, they’ve done incredible work, and we’ll look for ways to continue to support them in the future.”

Lawler says the foundation’s physical location will “close its doors,” and adds that “It’s going to be a different mindset.”

Meanwhile, from the Lensic Performing Arts Center, where Lannan hosted many of its events, Executive Director Joel Aalberts tells SFR he considers today’s news a turning point.

“The Lensic has been blessed with the partnership and support of the Lannan Foundation,” he says. “Their work has been a tremendous gift to us and the community. That said, there is still a decade of programming and engagement to come. If anything, acknowledging there is now a sunset to their work only amplifies it’s importance and heightens our appreciation. The Lensic is looking forward to working with Lannan to make these next 10 years very special.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version has been updated to clarify the future of the Indigenous Communities Program.

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