Installed in May 2015, after a chaotic en masse resignation of the previous board, the board of directors of the Art Alliance of Idyllwild has reinvented and redefined itself. At its annual membership meeting Friday, Feb. 26, the board reviewed its last nine-and-a-half months and unveiled plans for the future.
AAI is steadied by a new set of bylaws. Key revisions include election of directors by the membership; term limits for directors (two two-year terms, and after four years served, directors must sit out one year before again standing for election); staggered director terms that avoid replacing an entire board at one time; and measures designed to ensure financial transparency — specifically, requirements that all meeting minutes must be posted on the AAI website, and a clear definition of the board treasurer’s job responsibilities.
Spelled out are specific records the treasurer must keep, a requirement that those records be available to the president and directors at any time they request, and a requirement for independent financial review of those records on a regular basis. In part, that last requirement reads “prior to turning AAI financial records over to a newly appointed treasurer, or at a minimum every two years, there shall be conducted a financial review of those records by an independent third party selected by the Board of Directors.”
This last point (independent review of corporation financial documents) was a key element in demands made by a number of AAI members of the previous board — a demand and discussion that, in part, effected the mass resignation of the previous board.
“The revision of bylaws was work we had to do,” said AAI President Shanna Robb. “It was time-consuming but absolutely necessary to get the organization and board on a more solid footing.”
At the meeting attended by about 35 members, the board outlined an agenda for the coming year: to create new opportunities for membership and different membership categories; expand avenues for members to voice their suggestions and concerns about the image of the organization, and its programs and events; and to design a road map for future leaders, with a financial road map, new bylaws and an operation manual — so that new boards would have templates from which to operate, “how-to” manuals for all events and board procedures.
Director Peter Szabadi reported that the board is currently preparing the operations manual, specifying, among other items, AAI check-signing procedures, how to prepare budgets, and how much time prior to an event must an event budget be submitted to the board.
Szabadi commented on why it was so important to revise the bylaws and create an operations manual. “It was important to show you what kind of board we are giving you that we did not have before, how we are committed to increasing transparency and making the organization more democratic,” noted Szabadi. “In the past, this was a top-down organization where the board was self selected.” Szabadi and Robb stressed the board’s desire that the organization be membership driven.
Importantly, and consistent with its stated mission objective to “enhance and expand Idyllwild’s reputation as an art community, to support the achievement of artistic excellence and to support education in the arts,” the board detailed how it garnered revenues of $70,394, spent $56,363 and reported a net balance of $14,901. These records also are available online. Highlighted was the spending of 20 percent of expenses ($11,200) on “community contributions to the arts” with scholarship and program assistance to Hemet High School (for an Idyllwild student scholarship); Idyllwild Arts (for scholarship, summer program assistance and support of the community youth ballet program); Idyllwild School (for its spring musical); smARTS; Musica; Associates of the Idyllwild Arts Foundation; and funding for free community arts workshops and gallery panels for AAI shows.
Conscious of AAI’s status as a membership organization, the board configured seating for the meeting at round tables throughout the room. The board was not seated at a head table with memberships in the audience, but rather distributed at tables with the members. “There is a reason we are sitting among you, “said Robb. “We are members first and we are also artists. The strength of this organization is its membership, not its leaders.”
Nevertheless, what this board and its leaders have done in less than a year is documented by its success in staging events and raising $38,528 from those events with another $2,064 raised from mug, calendar and caddy sales, as well as its success in drafting and adopting new bylaws that addressed what many viewed as systemic weaknesses in the organizational structure.
To view the bylaws, minutes, financial records and coming events of the Art Alliance of Idyllwild, visit www.artinidyllwild.org. The rest of the money raised was from dues and donations.