April 07, 2020
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Salt Institute for Documentary Studies to close

PORTLAND, Maine — The nonprofit Salt Institute for Documentary Studies plans to close in September, more than 40 years after its founding in Kennebunk as a workshop in storytelling for photographers and writers.

Donna Galluzzo, the program’s outgoing executive director, and two board members wrote in an email Tuesday to alumni of the school that financial pressure prompted the decision.

“Enrollment has been static. Changes in affiliation agreements with colleges have resulted in the critical loss of access to student loans and AmeriCorps funding,” the email stated. “We have no endowment to dip into. Rapidly evolving technology needs add additional strain. On top of these factors, Salt has been operating with a bare-bones staff for some years now.”

The nonprofit’s most recent financial statements showed it closed fiscal year 2013 with a revenue shortfall of $83,459.

The Portland Press Herald reported Galluzzo, who in January announced plans to step down as the organization’s executive director after 15 years, said students who planned to attend classes in the fall were in the process of being notified.

In a blog post on the school’s website, Galluzzo documented the institute’s shift into the digital age since she was a student in 1997, adding courses in new media, radio and digital photography.

The program had planned changes to its curriculum in the fall, according to Galluzzo’s blog post.

“We’re incredibly excited about these changes, and we think this will continue to place Salt at the leading edge of what is happening in digital storytelling,” Galluzzo wrote.

During the program’s 42-year history, it maintained an archive of written and radio stories as well as photographs about life in Maine. The group wrote the institute was working with a company to digitize that archive and make it open to the public in some form.

“The board sees the preservation of the archive as paramount, and we will work to ensure its safety during this transition,” Galluzzo and the two board members wrote Tuesday.

The Salt Institute was founded in Kennebunk in 1973 by English teacher Pamela Wood, focusing on writing and photography, according to the organization’s website. Since that time, it said more than 1,000 students have enrolled in its semester-long programs.

Galluzzo did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment Tuesday.


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