On November 16, Poets House was forced to cease operations. We believe it’s important that you better understand the situation we were in. And we want to address the rumors…
It is with profound sadness that Poets House announces it will suspend operations immediately as a result of pressures stemming from challenges presented by the COVID 19 pandemic.
We hope it will be possible in late 2021 to reopen once the pandemic is under control and Poets House has reconfigured its operations.
Out of loyalty and respect, Poets House has been able to keep its full staff on at their full salaries throughout these difficult months of the COVID crisis. But the diminishment of emergency funds and a difficult fundraising environment have necessitated this hiatus and a staff layoff. The Board has chosen to act before our limited reserves are depleted so that we can offer staff severance packages and vacation pay.
2020 has without a doubt been the most difficult year for arts organizations in two generations and for Poets House since its founding. We are so grateful to everyone who has been part of our community—staff, board, poets, funders, friends, visitors—for your care for and contributions to the organization. Poets House has invited the world into the power of poetry with grace and warmth. Together we have built one of the great libraries and places for the art form on the globe, Our goal in making these difficult decisions at this time is to ensure its survival.
Lee Briccetti, executive director of Poets House for over 30 years, is announcing her retirement, effective in 2021. Lee has done so much to build Poets House into a world-class poetry library, creating a legacy of welcome, diverse programming and innovative projects, over decades. Lee and Jane Preston, Managing Director, will stay on temporarily to wind operations down, and to plan succession and a seamless transition.
Robert Kissane, chairman of the Poets House Board of Directors, said, “This is an unprecedented moment in the history of Poets House and, indeed, in the world. Poets House must take these measures in order to pivot toward resiliency. It is the obligation of the board and leadership together to ensure that the mission of Poets House and its world class collections will survive.”
Although programs and services will be suspended, Poets House will reach out to poets and constituents over the next months to ask them to share their thoughts as Poets House works to reimagine its future. For now, we send this sad news with sincere thanks for being part of an incredible legacy of art making, generosity and service.
—The Board of Directors of Poets House
—Holland Cotter, The New York Times