The Collider, Asheville’s visionary climate-science-focused event convener, office space and meeting venue, has run into some quotidian realities. Despite contributions of over $2.5 million from founder Mack Pearsall spread over three years, the nonprofit “has not yet achieved financial self-sustainability,” according to a press release.
Discussions over the past several weeks about The Collider’s future included an option to suspend the organization’s operations entirely. Instead, The Collider told Xpress on June 5, building owner Claire Callen will take over as the nonprofit’s board chair and president, with all responsibility for operating the space. Pearsall will remain on the board and “continue as a strong supporter of the organization.”
In addition to Pearsall, other board members listed on The Collider’s website include George Briggs, executive director of The North Carolina Arboretum; James McMahon, CEO of The Climate Service; and Michael Tanner.
Callen and Miami-based Ocean-Asheville purchased the Wells Fargo Building at 1 Haywood St. in 2013. On March 11, 2016, The Collider opened in 6,000 square feet on the building’s fourth floor, which totals 25,000 square feet and is known as the Callen Center. According to the press release, “Currently, there are some 60 businesses, organizations and individuals who … range from micro-entrepreneurs who use a coworking desk or small office, to fast-growing companies with projects and clients across the country, to two international organizations with satellite offices at the downtown Asheville location.”
Callen subsidized the space over an 18-month initial startup period to encourage the development of “an ecosystem of climate scientists and entrepreneurs,” according to Callen, Pearsall and Thomas Karl, retired director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, in a 2017 Xpress article.
While June 5 press release advises that Callen says “it’s business as usual” for those seeking office or meeting space at The Collider, the new president was not immediately available for comment, and information on the future of its signature events, including ClimateCon and [Food + Beverage] Collider, has not been released.