I was in conversation with a longtime BSA member the other day, someone who had been active on the Board and in many other BSA activities. This member said to me, “I joined the Buffalo Society of Artists to further my art career, but I feel that this is where my art career came to die.” This was a disconcerting statement to be sure. As we continued to talk, this member had envisioned the BSA as an organization that would offer the kind of programming, professional development and public exposure that would provide access to the tools and a network of artists to assist in moving forward in personal artistic endeavors. It seemed that this was why this person had become a member and that BSA had not delivered as expected.
This conversation, along with recent responses to initiatives taken by the Board to rebrand and refocus the BSA, have had me reflecting on just what being a member of the BSA means – not only to the member that expressed the sentiment above but to each and every one of us.
For some, membership in one of the oldest arts organizations in the country may offer some sort of pedigree, a statement of affirmation having successfully navigated the gauntlet of a jurying process. For others, membership may simply mean the social and professional participation with others of like interests. Some may see membership in the organization as an opportunity to show their work two or three times a year along with esteemed colleagues. Others may feel the exposure they can get via the website and BSA newsletters and E-flashes makes membership worthwhile. Some, like the member cited above, may see the organization as an opportunity for them to grow professionally. And there are those to whom membership may be nothing more than a line on their resume.
I believe that it behooves each of us to consider what membership in this organization means to us individually. What are the benefits of membership? What am I able and willing to give as a member, not only in terms of dues, but also in terms of time and participation? What would I tell other artists to encourage them to join BSA? Indeed, what does BSA have to offer to emerging, mid-career and established artists?
The May 15, 2019 letter sent to you by the BSA Board outlined how we have been seeking to build BSA into a credible not-for-profit visual arts organization that has the capacity and sustainability to receive and manage grants and funding from outside sources. Such funding will be needed to subsidize programming that is vital and relevant to local visual artists in our current cultural landscape. It will also enable BSA to benefit the Greater Buffalo community as we offer it our creative gifts through exhibition, education, and involvement.
The letter also indicated that we are in an uncomfortable time of transition when some things may be left behind so new things can be born. We, the Board, need your help with this transition and the transformation to which it gives birth. We have sought your input through the strategic planning process. On Saturday, June 22nd from 11:00 am. to 1:00 pm. at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site, 641 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, there will be a meeting at which we will discuss the results of the Concept Mapping done on behalf of the strategic planning process. We will also leave some time for general discussion.
One way you can give meaning to your membership in BSA is to be in attendance at the meeting on June 22nd so that you can be an active part of our move into the future. Thank you.