Gallery in search of taboo art

Art often expresses, and breaks, societal norms.  At it’s best, it causes us to think about the world we live in and stirs up an emotional reaction.  Artists weave pieces of their soul into their creations and then hope it connects with someone strongly enough that they pay to take it home.  It’s not a profession known as a safe way to make a living.

Sage Magee, photo credit: facebook

Sage Magee, a senior at Avalon Charter High School, is hosting an art gallery to examine both of those issues – breaking societal norms and building bonds between starving artists and art lovers with pocketbooks.

The Taboo Art Gallery is looking for art that breaks taboos in any culture.  Art will be displayed at Sacred Paths Center during a weekend run in April.  Magee says the exhibit is accepting art submissions from any US resident and there is no age barrier.  Painting, drawing, printmaking, fiber, and mixed media or photography are the preferred disciplines.  Magee says pieces are picked for display based on relevance to the theme and difficulty in display.

Magee’s exhibit is part of her larger senior project “In Search of a Well-fed Artist” which she says is helping her explore a career in art management,  “I’ve been using my senior project as a way to test the waters in a career in arts management. It’s my practice run you could say.”  While she’s learning about gallery management first hand, she hopes that attendees learn about different taboos from cultures around the globe.

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Sacred Path Center Update – Governance/Financial Reports and History

The Twin Cities Pagan community center,  Sacred Paths Center, updated its website with a historical narrative and links to governance and preliminary internal audit documents. As part of the SPC’s commitment to ‘transparency‘, the narrative is a frank statement describing events that have led to the present state of affairs within the SPC. 

Sacred Paths Center (SPC), the Pagan community center in Paganistan whose recent financial troubles, successful fundraising effort ‘indefinite’ closing for audit, and subsequent reopening made national news, is in the news again.  Yesterday, they released the findings from their governance audit and  noted a failure to meet duties required of Minnesota non-profit corporations, by board members.  The report went on to include suggestions to resolve the problems listed through a clear declaration of duties and Board education.

SPC also posted a historical narrative describing the confusion of the interpretation of the roles of Executive Director and Governing Board.  It states:  Continue reading

Letter to the Editor: SPC’s Ciaran Benson

First, I want to thank you for your excellent write-up on what is happening at the Center.

Awesome work.

The PNC is really setting the bar for reporting on Pagan issues really high, and I appreciate that.

I do want to respond to this statement:

“The source says it unclear if the alleged possible problems with the bookkeeping are  from sloppy record keeping, mismanagement, or rise to an actionable item under Minnesota law”

Speaking as a board member for the Sacred Paths Center who has been closely involved with these issues, I want to completely confirm and agree with this statement.  We don’t know the answer either.  That’s the reason we’ve arranged for this audit.

We’ve talked with our attorneys and described what we’ve found to the Minnesota Council for Non-Profits and the MAP for Non-Profits center resources, and what we’re hearing from them is that our failings are very typical of non-profits of our age and size.

I was surprised to find that they weren’t surprised by what we were telling them.  In one case the person I was working with reached into a pile of Frequently Asked Questions From Board Members and handed me a sheet that basically listed everything I’d just told her.  Apparently, we’re very mainstream in our failures.

That’s not to belittle our failings – we really missed some obvious things that we should have been doing.  For example, we failed to file federal tax returns.  The IRS isn’t hot on our heals because we don’t owe them any money, but not having at least filed a return saying that we didn’t owe them money was dumb.  Not realizing that we hadn’t done it was dumb again.  Not checking to make sure that it had been taken care of and logging it in our corporate books was dumb a third time.

We apparently have dumb down.  We’ve shown we’re pretty darned good at it.

If we could bottle dumb, and people would buy it from us, then we would be where you would go to get it.

It’s important to note that as a non-profit in Minnesota, these failings are for the most part already public information.  Where it isn’t public information – that in and of itself is where we’ve failed.  The federal and state governments know exactly what our failings are, and anyone who wishes to review our Form 990 will see that we haven’t filed one.  All levels of government have been very helpful in pointing out to us exactly what forms and reports we failed to file, and they have been very encouraging in asking us to get our act together.

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UPDATE: Sacred Paths Center to Reopen

Sacred Paths Center sparked speculation yesterday when they abruptly announced that the the center was closing “indefinitely” and would be conducting an internal and external audit.  Today, SPC Executive Director Teisha Magee, announced that the center would reopen Monday, August 8th.

We sincerely apologize for the confusion caused by our sudden closing. We want to thank Keys of Paradise for making their space available for the events that we inconvenienced this week. – Statement from Executive Director Teisha Magee

Magee also wanted to reassure people who had scheduled events at the  center between now and the reopening on Monday that the space they reserved is  available to them as promised previously.

The sudden announcement of indefinite closure, coming just a day after announcing the center had surpassed its fundraising goals to keep their doors open, caused some Pagans to speculate, “If it turns out people’s sympathy was being played to pay someone’s gambling debts, we better see more than an internal audit,” Kenneth commented on The Wild Hunt.  Rumors were further fueled by the resignations of two unnamed board members.

Magee said the reason for the closing was “to catch up on some neglected organizational items” and to do a physical inventory of the store.  Another task the SPC board is focusing on includes restructuring their organizational tools.

Sacred Paths Center put out this comment on their facebook page in response to a question:

   Sorry, we’ve realized that the word “audit” has been misconstrued. This is not an IRS-style audit, this is annual audit that all non-profits must do to show that they’ve used the donations they’ve received properly. This isn’t something being forced on the center, this is something the center is doing to make sure our Form 990s and other documentation meet the government’s standards for “best practices”. Because most of our organization is unfamiliar with these forms, we felt getting outside advice was appropriate.

An unnamed source disputes SPC’s claim that this is a routine audit.  They say that while the SPC board is acting in good faith and sincerely wants to resolve the issue, the temporary closure and audit were forced on the center by a SPC member.  “The member basically came in and said ‘you must do this or I’ll take certain steps’ – implying that they would report the center to some state authority.  The source says the board was aware of irregularities in the center’s books and planned to look into the issue, but the demand by the anonymous center member forced quicker action.

The source says it unclear if the alleged possible problems with the bookkeeping are  from sloppy record keeping, mismanagement, or rise to an actionable item under Minnesota law.  They noted that the member who demanded the audit firmly believes in the center,  still fully supports it, and says it is a good investment for the community.

SPC plans to publish a breakdown of the success of their Change and Grow campaign on Monday, August 8th. The full statement from Sacred Paths Center is reprinted below.

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Breaking: Sacred Paths Center Closed “Indefinitely”

Editor’s note:  there is an update to this story here.

At approximately 3pm today Sacred Paths Center put out the following statement:

As a result of an internal audit during the Change & Grow program, the Sacred Paths Center board has directed the closing of the center and called for a full inventory of the center’s assets and an external audit of the corporation’s finances.

The board has also empowered an internal audit of the corporation’s organizational documents, governance and administrative procedures, and policies.

This affects all operation at the Sacred Paths Center’s current facility. The gift shop, all class rooms and the healing center will all be closed indefinitely. All classes and events are suspended indefinitely.

Normal office hours have been suspended. The staff have been directed to focus on preparing materials necessary for the external audit and will not be available to answer questions about the closure.

Rather than stopping by the center or attempting to reach us by phone, please contact the center at if you have any questions or concerns about the audit, and if you have any questions about upcoming classes and availability of healers, readers, teachers and other services.

PNC-Minnesota is seeking further information about the closure, the future of the center, and the status of SPC board members.

As information becomes available, this article will be updated.