Pollock-Krasner Center May Lose $10,000

The Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center in Springs ­­could lose $10,000 in state funding and take a hit to other revenue streams because the Town of East Hampton has mandated a switch to visits by appointment only, which went into effect yesterday.

Drop-in visiting hours had been from 1 to 5 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays during the center’s May to October season. The change came in response to concerns expressed at a July 13 meeting by the East Hampton Town attorney, Michael P. Sendlenski, about overflow parking and traffic around the popular site, which is on busy Springs-Fireplace Road.

Nearly 10,000 visitors toured the former home and studios of Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner last year, an increase of almost 1,000 from 2016. The center is slightly ahead of the 2017 pace this year.

“The town wants the historic story of the location shared with the public, but has significant concerns about the traffic congestion and safe parking conditions that result from expanded use of the premises,” Mr. Sendlenski wrote to Helen Harrison, the center’s director, in a letter dated July 16.

“For them, it’s a liability issue, and this should solve the parking problem,” Ms. Harrison said. “For us, it’s one basic schedule change, which is instead of open admission in the afternoons Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, we’ll have a limit of three tours of no more than 12 people each for those three days. And now people will have to make reservations rather than dropping in. We’ve been trying our best to get the word out to reduce the inconvenience for our visitors who might not know about the change.”

Martin Drew, a Springs resident, brought parking and traffic to the town’s attention by digging up a copy of East Hampton Town Planning Board guidelines laid out in a special permit the center received in 1991. The permit limited the site to use as a “semi-public” facility, with visits by appointment. By reverting to that permit, the center could lose $10,000 in a state grant requested for 2018-19, because, Ms. Harrison said, it would no longer meet the New York State Council for the Arts “public service” criterion.

“We really don’t know about the state funding because it’s pending,” Ms. Harrison said. “But the changes will definitely cut down on our admissions and gift shop revenue. We have visitors that come to us from all over the world, and as far away as Australia. They come to us and go to hotels, restaurants, and other places in the area as well. Right now, we’re in the process of doing an economic impact survey because all of these services have exponential impact on the area. So this affects that, too.”

Ms. Harrison said, however, that there were some positive aspects to the forced changes. The town had been willing to negotiate, she said, and allowed the center three tours and 36 reservations Thursdays through Saturdays though the original permit provided for only two tours for 10 people each on those days.

Ms. Harrison said the decrease in visitors would also reduce wear and tear on the building and grounds, especially the foot traffic on the paint-spattered studio floor in the small converted barn where Pollock painted. (Krasner worked in a room on the second floor of the main house.)

Ms. Harrison also said reservation-only policies were “not unusual” in the context of the 36-site consortium the Pollock-Krasner House belongs to, because of the fragility of some sites or space considerations. Ms. Harrison emphasized that group tours and school and family programs were not affected since they already require reservations. Reservations can be made by visiting the museum’s website.

“When you get too many people on the site at any one time, it diminishes the visitors’ experiences,” Ms. Harrison said. “So, I’m going to be optimistic about this and hope for the best.”