The board of directors of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center has contracted with an independent auditing firm to review the financial records of the organization and make recommendations on improved financial controls. The firm of Henderson Hutcherson & McCullough, PLLC has been selected.
In addition, the board established a community panel to review the current policies and procedures of the Center and to provide recommendations on operational improvements. The panel will work in conjunction with a board team that also will evaluate the center’s guidelines.
The community panel includes Dr. Gail Dawson, UTC professor of Business, James McKissic, director of Multicultural Affairs for the City of Chattanooga, and Jim Pulliam, director of Safety and Risk Assessment for UTC, with additional panelists under consideration.
“As a board, we are committed to having a thorough understanding of the financial controls at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center and the operational guidelines,” said Jeffrey Wilson, chairman of the board. “The Bessie is a valuable asset in the community and we value our relationships with our community partners.”
Mr. Wilson said with the board’s action to retain an independent auditor and set up a community panel to review day-to-day operations, “we are committed to the 34-year history of the Bessie as a venue for cultural and artistic education, entertainment and heritage.”
The independent auditors are expected to report to the board within six weeks with their findings and recommendations for improvements in the financial management and controls at the Center. Included in the audit will be a review of the Bessie Smith Strut.
“As the board of the Center, we serve in a role to build on the vision of our founders 34 years ago,” Mr. Wilson said. “We want the community to continue with its support for the Bessie Smith Cultural Center and to know that we are committed to being an active partner with all of those involved in preserving our cultural heritage.”
Mr. Wilson said when the reports are completed, the board will provide additional information.