Jill Berryman out

Jill Berryman

Jill Berryman

The Sierra Arts Foundation and its director Jill Berryman have parted ways. In a Sept. 12 email to arts supporters, Berryman wrote, “Just to update you on what is happening, the Executive Committee decided to terminate me as of September 16, 2011 at 12:01 a.m. The motion was made by Norman and seconded by Shawn and reads as follows: ‘As a result of cash flow issues the Executive Committee of Sierra Arts Foundation has decided to terminate Executive Director Jill Berryman as of 12:01 a.m. on September 16, 2011.’ ”

The references are presumably to secretary treasurer Norman Subotky and president Shawn Smith.

Stacey Spain, former public art specialist for the city government, is serving as interim executive director.

In an interview, Berryman said the reference to “cash flow” refers to recession-related money problems the Foundation is having.

“When you think of it, in times like these when you decide where to put your charitable money, you might give to the food bank rather than an arts organization,” she said, and the executive committee’s members related those problems to her because of her long tenure in the executive director’s post—20 years.

“When someone has been in an organization for a long time, you tend to look at them to solve all your problems,” she said.

Berryman, 50, leaves without a severance package, which she said she did not seek. She is the latest long-term leader of a local charity to lose her job in this recession. Earlier this year Joni Kaiser was forced out as director of the Committee to Aid Abused Women.

While she is melancholy about being out of a job she had held for so long, she said, “I’m relieved to have the opportunity to go on to the next thing.” She said she and her husband have an empty nest, all their children having moved out, and it is a good time for her to look around and decide what to do next. She has applied to graduate school at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, Calif. She is active in Nevada Alliance for Arts Education and has been offered a job by Artspace Projects of Minneapolis, the firm that handled conversion of Reno’s Riverside Hotel to artists’ lofts.

“Art has a way of being able to explain some impossible things in your life,” Berryman said.