Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summer Board Meeting recap

This past weekend was the National Summer Board meeting held in Washington DC, presided over by our new president (and chapter member!) Marilyn Hayes. Although we are not board members, Kathy Dobash and I went down to represent the chapter and find out what is going on at the National Level.
It turned out to be a good idea- Kathy became the unofficial photographer of the event (see some of her photos in a post below), and I helped out recording minutes and giving voice for a younger generation of members (ha! at 30 I was by far the youngest person in the room). In this photo Marsha Heck of St Louis chapter and I are capturing statements from a group brainstorming activity.
The weekend started off with some museum and gallery hopping. We joined the tour at the NAtional Museum of Women in the Arts, a first-rate museum with both a permanent collection and changing exhibits. Their collection includes work by women throughout history not constrained geographically to the US, although much of the 20th century artwork was by US artists. It's truly impressive to see the strength of women's art throughout the ages, and to know that every piece you see was created by a women (contrast that to going through the PMA on Tuesday this week and searching for Women's names- O'Keefe and Cassat are our major representatives there). The evening was spent at the Arlington Arts Center for the closing reception and panel discussion for "She's So Articulate", an exhibition of Black Women Artists curated to be a response to the work of Kara Walker. If you don't know KAra Walker, google her to get the frame of reference. The curator, while a collector of Walker's work, also wanted to show the great range and strength of work by Black women artists. One comment that Maya Asante made during the presentation really stuck with me- that in school she was praised while she was making afro-centric art, but when she moved away from it and started making more formally abstract work, her instructors questioned its validity. For more info: The evening finished out at Marilyn Hayes' home, where the DC chapter hosted a potluck dinner and slide share, perfect for allowing everyone to get to know each other and/or catch up with old acquaintances.
Saturday Board Meeting Lead-up
On Saturday, Marilyn arranged for a facilitator to lead us through exercises to help us understand the past, identify issues in the present, and dream for the future of WCA.
It helped a great deal to define how the organization has and is changing. Some of the external trends that are effecting the WCA are: downward economics, increased concern for the environment, change in technology for disseminating information, lack of art education in public schools, need for non-profits to work with communities, continued lack of equity for women (ex: more women have teaching positions in universities, but most of those positions are temporary adjunct), move toward making more global networks, etc. We also defined the aspects of WCA that we are proud of and regret:
  • Prouds: we honor women in the arts at all career stages, we are committed to each other in a support network, we are inclusive, we are an NGO of the UN, we empower women in the arts, we train women for leadership as well as improve their professional skills, etc.
  • Sorries: lack of diversity, lack of visibility/presence, lack of fundraising, lack of follow-through, lack of communication
In the afternoon we moved on to more concrete issues currently impacting the WCA:
  • Our Mission Statement: "to expand opportunities and recognition for women in the arts". A resounding majority felt that the mission reflected the founder's desire for "a place at the table" (wanting women artists to get into museums, galleries, art history books, and tenured professor positions). Whereas, current membership would like to reflect our desire to be positive agents for social change in our communities. We need stronger language. President-elect JAnice Nesser-Chu is spearheading a committee to update the mission statement. Once their work is complete, National will be able to do new PR statements and materials.
  • The change in CAA's conference schedule: CAA has switched to a 3 year schedule passing between LA('09,'12), Chicago('10,'13), and NYC('11,'14). The question is, does WCA follow the schedule for our conference and Lifetime Achievement awards, or do we break away? PROS: staying with CAA provides greater visibility for the LAA, we are given one session of CAA for WCA content, the Feminist Art Project is providing a great deal of feminist content and as founding members of FAP we can collaborate. CONS:the 3 cities are expensive making it more difficult for people to stay extended periods to attend a WCA conference after CAA, chapters in the 3 cities will get burned out, no chapter in NYC, only going to 3 cities means we don't get to experience other vibrant arts areas and meet other chapters. Possibilities: Stick with CAA for winter board meeting, and develop regional conferences for the summer board meeting?

More in another post!

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