The Petaluma Arts Center is a tremendous resource for artists in this community, an event space for world class exhibitions, a place of learning for aspiring young artists and a symbol of our city’s commitment to culture.

It’s also broke.

That’s the sad reality for one of the great nonprofits of Petaluma. After starting with a sizable endowment, little was done in the way of fundraising over the past decade. The center instead had an unhealthy habit of drawing upon that $1.5 million donation, which has since dwindled to less than $100,000.

The fiscal struggles boiled to the surface recently as the nonprofit board decided to lay off the entire paid staff, including the new executive director, who had shown a great desire to turn around the sinking ship when he started six months ago. Now, rudderless and quickly taking on water, the Arts Center could use a life preserver.

The Arts Center is badly in need of a cornerstone donor to quickly bolster the depleted endowment. But in the meantime, even small donations will help keep the nonprofit afloat.

Visit petalumaartscenter.org/donate to find out how to give to support the creative community in Petaluma. There are also opportunities to purchase a membership, for as low as $40, which comes with added benefits.

The board has resolved to keep the doors open through volunteer efforts. It will maintain programming already scheduled — the Summer Arts Camp classes, a current exhibition of paintings from Vintage Bank Antiques in Petaluma, and an exhibition entitled “Renewal Through Art” commemorating the October 2017 fire. Indeed, the post-fire environment made fundraising more challenging.

The shows are free, but donations are encouraged. And, since it is now an all-volunteer effort, the Arts Center could use your help. Find out about volunteer opportunities at petalumaartscenter.org/volunteer.

Petaluma is known for stepping up and supporting all of the amazing nonprofits in the community. The Petaluma Arts Center is the premier nonprofit in the community for visual artists, doing what Cinnabar Theater does for the Petaluma performing arts community.

Contributions to the center could also be considered an investment in the community. A recent survey from Creative Sonoma showed the nonprofit arts and culture industry, of which the Petaluma Arts Center is a part, generates $80.4 million in annual economic activity in Sonoma County.

The Arts Center promotes art in Petaluma classrooms and offers classes for kids. Somewhere, there is a talented young artist in Petaluma, who is begging for the Arts Center to harness her creativity. That won’t happen if we allow the Arts Center to go under.

We don’t want to lose this valuable cultural resource in our community. Petalumans should step up and support the Petaluma Arts Center to ensure this cultural lighthouse continues to shine brightly into the future.