Former Employees Discuss Ahha's Sudden Closure


Thursday, November 10th 2022, 4:36 pm



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An art center in downtown Tulsa that's been around for 6 decades unexpectedly shut its doors last week and lots of people want to know why. 

Ahha Tulsa closed its doors unexpectedly last week leaving artists and employees without work and people here with a lot of questions. A closed sign on the front doors greets ahha Tulsa visitors. Employees and visitors were given no notice. People are posting on social media about it, including this comment.

Related Story: Ahha's Hardesty Arts Center In Tulsa Will Close Permanently

“This all could have been handled better. I am so terribly sorry for the employees who were blindsided.”

But some people said they saw this coming.

“I knew something was going to happen," said Lauren Lunsford. "I didn't know what.”

Lauren Lunsford worked for Mayfest for many years and said she quit because of ongoing issues. She said when Mayfest merged with ahha in 2020, she was worried about what would happen. Lauren also worked as a teaching artist with ahha for 10 years and said there were concerns about getting paid in a timely manner.

“I had to ask where my checks were," she said. "I had to wait 6 weeks out from the jobs.”

When she found out the museum was closed last week, she said it wasn’t a shock.

"I was surprised but I wasn't surprised. I mean I feel like they keep making bad choices," she said. 

Ahha's communications director said they're working quickly to get support for the employees who are out of work but can’t comment yet about what led to the closure. The center was founded in 1961 and said its programs helped 130,000 children and adults around Tulsa.

Ahha said it is working with its partners to keep its programs including Mayfest going.

"We are very saddened by the closure of ahha. It has been a great advocate for local artists and a vibrant forum for 6 decades. Its shuttering has caused heart ache to so many especially the employees, artists who have been building installations and expecting compensation and a venue to show work created specifically for ahha, the members who have recently paid fees, as well as those booking for weddings and events. We have nothing to do with the management nor are we on the board. We are anticipating learning what the future plan will be," said Michelle Hardesty, Executive Director of Hardesty Family Foundation.

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