LETTER- Prism board faces challenge

It's tempting to focus on the behavior of one person when we try to understand the troubled history of The Prism Coffee House ["Prism closes," News, April 27]. The reality, however, is that The Prism is a corporate entity and the entire board of directors is legally accountable for the care of the organization and for upholding the public trust.

The Prism Coffee House is no longer located at 214 Rugby Ave. It's hard to imagine that anyone wanted this outcome, but that's the way things stand. It is now up to the Prisms board as a group to take full responsibility for setting a future course for the Prism. There will be difficult questions to address in a timely and public fashion. First, they must decide whether to operate as a public non-stock charitable organization. If not, they are legally bound to dissolve and disburse all of The Prisms assets, including material goods such as tapes and memorabilia, to a public charity. This is the law.

In the eyes of the law, it will be the entire board, not one individual, who will be held accountable for past and future actions. If the Prism chooses to operate as a tax-exempt non-profit, the board can take advantage of this transition period to focus on board development, learning about their legal responsibilities, and about standards for the healthy operation of a public charity.

The board includes some creative, competent, and devoted people with extraordinary gifts to offer to the music community and the public. All board members need to bring their collective gifts to the forefront and assume full responsibility for the direction of The Prism. Never again should the future of this community treasure hang in the balance of the strengths and weakness of any one person.

Mary Anna Dunn
Albemarle County