Corporate shareholder Rowland Cook recently served as pro bono counsel on the successful merger of Arthouse at the Jones Center and the Austin Museum of Art (AMOA). Rowland took on the pro bono project last May, representing Arthouse in the merger, and brought Winstead tax attorney Dana Lipp into the project to assist with initial research. Both entities were 501(c)(3) Texas non-profits and the merger was interesting because the two museums had different cultures and histories.
The board chair of Arthouse was Melba Whatley, and the board chair for AMOA was Lynn Sherman, a former Winstead shareholder. Rowland attributes the successful merger to the hard work and commitment of the board members of both museums, as accommodations and compromises were necessary for both boards to approve the merger. The new board chair of AMOA, the surviving entity (to be known as AMOA-Arthouse), is Darrell Windham, also a former Winstead shareholder.
The merger has ended a rocky chapter for both museums, as the entity will be able to operate debt-free, with a combined budget of $4.2 million. The AMOA-Arthouse merger has both past and future implications. The two organizations actually used to be united as the Texas Fine Arts Association, formed in 1911, Then in 1961, AMOA’s predecessor was formed as the Laguna Gloria Art Museum. It will be interesting to see how AMOA-Arthouse will evolve in the future because each respective museum has been known to attract somewhat different audiences, which will undoubtedly lead to a new cultural diversity in Austin’s art scene.
The Austin American-Statesman covered the story frequently and featured the two museums and the successful merger on the front page in November 2011. For more information on AMOA-Arthouse, go to this link: http://220.127.116.11/bridge/.