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…
With profound sadness, Poets House has had to temporarily suspend operations as a result of pressures stemming from the COVID 19 pandemic.
We are currently seeking ways to re-open to the public in late 2021 once the pandemic is under control and Poets House has reconfigured its operations.
Out of loyalty and respect, Poets House was able to keep its full staff on at their full salaries throughout these difficult months of the COVID crisis until late November. But the diminishment of emergency funds and a difficult fundraising environment necessitated a hiatus and staff layoff. The Board acted before limited reserves were depleted so that we could 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 in the fall of 2020, was to ensure the survival of the organization.
Lee Briccetti, executive director of Poets House for over 30 years, has announced her retirement 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