Anne Wrinkle, the longtime director of external affairs for SITE Santa Fe and a key part of its growth, has left the organization amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has kept the contemporary art center closed since March.
Wrinkle said the elimination of her position was the direct result of the financial fallout wrought by COVID-19.
“People say there’s a bright side of all this, and there will be,” Wrinkle said Thursday. “Even though it seems hard to leave, and getting through the grief of that blow has been a process, I did have the privilege to spend six weeks going through that process. I’ll always adore SITE.”
Though Wrinkle said she knew in May she would be leaving, her last day at SITE Santa Fe was Wednesday. She had worked there for 19 of its 25 years.
“SITE was a scrappy place when I arrived. … It’s developed into not a mature place, because it’s still growing, but a more savvy and sophisticated place,” said Wrinkle, who will consult with the organization through the rest of the year.
She said the parting, though painful, was amicable. She spent her last day at a small, socially distant ice cream social, with many of the friends she’d met along the way checking in online to wish her well.
“It was sad, bittersweet,” she said. “One door closes, and then someone said, ‘Sometimes the door that opens is even brighter.’ And I think that may well be the case.”
As the pandemic wreaks economic havoc throughout the country, its reach is being deeply felt in arts communities.
Irene Hofmann, director and chief curator of SITE Santa Fe, said the loss in revenue has been significant. She said SITE will operate on a budget with about $1 million less in projected revenue than it had in the previous fiscal year, forcing it to reduce staff by about six full- and part-time positions.
“It’s definitely been one of the hardest parts of this whole crisis, coming to terms with changes we needed to make in our scale and then realizing that meant our staff,” she said. “Losing Anne in particular was hard, hard personally. And it will be hard for SITE.”
Other arts organizations in the city are facing similar issues as public health orders keep museums and other outlets closed.
“It’s a particularly uneasy time for arts organizations and for so many others,” Hofmann said.
Hofmann said the organization will continue to use online means to work with the arts and artists, as well as to provide help to schools, teachers and children. But she acknowledged that in a COVID-19 world, traditional methods of operation — including staffing, funding and program delivery — will be changed.
In the meantime, SITE is nearly finished installing a show called Displaced, dealing with the global refugee crisis, that will greet visitors when museums reopen.