September 2010 BSA Newsletter (PDF)
This being my last President’s message, I want extend my thanks to all of the Board members and volunteers I worked with to meet the incredible challenges and changes that we faced the past few years—not only the website-development, but also a reorganization of the BSA into five major components: Exhibitions, Artpark, Membership, Programming, and Communications--the stark reality being we simply could not operate any longer in the simpler, 20th century mode if we hoped to survive and flourish. The past few years we have shown ourselves to be nothing if not adaptive. Organizations that get complacent die.
Over my two terms, we reined in our budget, identifying problem areas and working out cost-cutting solutions; raised thousands of dollars through fundraisers to restore a large portion of the treasury expended on our website; executed the new membership paradigm, welcoming dozens of new Associate members, some of whom are now Exhibiting members; initiated the Video Archive Project and conducted a major seminar on estate planning for artists, both in conjunction with the Burchfield-Penney Art Center; underwent the transition to digital jurying, which expanded our ability to draw jurors from all over the nation; enacted the cost-saving measure of bringing this newsletter to you via the web site; and organized dozens of studio visits. As an arts organization, we are fortunate to be, without a penny of grant money, running in the black. With continued good management, we hope to keep doing so. This will be important, as new challenges, mostly technological, arise. This all happened because of the fine people who devoted much of their work and time to the Buffalo Society of Artists—people who, while honoring what we’ve been, believe in what we can be. I am blessed to have served with every one of them.
I want to announce that Lukia Costello and Nita Easter have joined the Board of Directors to fulfill the terms of Helen Russell and Lawrence Kinney respectively, who both resigned over the past months. It is always hard to lose the experience, work, and vision that standing Board members contribute, however, it is gratifying--and a relief--when other members step up to the plate. I look forward to finishing out the last few months of my term as President working with Lukia and Nita on the Board. They will be a valuable addition to a sterling group.
I would like to thank Board Member/past President Gary Wolfe for arranging the special membership meeting that was held on August 21 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, with Christina Coyle, a guest facilitator from Prism Solutions. The purpose of the meeting was to craft a new mission statement for the BSA to help with marketing and branding the organization. The program Christina designed was simply incredible! We began with a simple warm-up exercise, where the some thirty-five attendees assembled a sculpture from the seventy or so rocks the facilitator had placed on a table. We proceeded without exchanging a word, and when finished, we discussed the metaphors implicit within our choices and the placement of the rocks and we mused on what these might mean to our organization. It reads:
The mission of the Buffalo Society of Artists is to recognize and promote excellence in visual art through the presentation of exhibitions, lectures, and activities favorable to artistic expression and to develop interchanges among artists and those interested in the arts.
Former BSA president Anita Johnson, commented after the meeting that, “there were arguments in our group, and in the end, what we came up with sounds pretty much like what was already in the Statement of Purpose.” My response to that was, “good.” First of all, conflict isn’t always bad and it sometimes occurs when people are passionate about what they’re doing. Secondly, while the resulting statement is definitely new, streamlined and contemporary, it also serves as a reaffirmation of certain core values embodied in the organization since its inception.
On another topic, Jennifer Kurtsen, who has been instrumental in helping us design the marvel that is our website, has had to step down from being our web administrator. After two years of outstanding service, and this on top of the full terms she spent on our Board, Jennifer is owed a huge debt of gratitude for helping bring us into the 21st century. This has been a monumental task. I also recommend more informal get-togethers - BS sessions if you will - to help us get to know each other better, exchange ideas, anecdotes, tips, artistic philosophies. The few times we did this I found it quite worthwhile.
I want to thank our many past Presidents and Trustees for their wisdom, experience, and invaluable input, and I would like to single out Mort Spiller, who after decades of service to the BSA, retired and then agreed to serve as Trustee Emeritus. Mr. Spiller, you are irreplaceable.
I urge everyone to dig up some pocket change and attend the Annual Dinner Meeting on November 4th at the Buffalo Yacht Club and to plan on attending the New Members’ Reception on November 13 at the West Side Rowing Club. Check this newsletter for more details.
And finally, though there were times when I wondered how I was going to make it through one, then two, years, there was never any question whether the endeavor was worthwhile. It helped having a phenomenal Board, great officers, and outstanding volunteers. I couldn’t have done it without you.