GAS Clarifies Arizona Conf Cancellation

>An earlier post listed the Glass Art Society (GAS) cancellation of the planned 2011 GAS Conference in Tuscon Arizona.

The Board of Directors for GAS has issued a clarification, emailed out to the members of the glass artist organization on the reasons behind the decision to cancel the Arizona conference.

“Dear GAS Members:

The Board of Directors and the Executive Director would like to thank you for your many communications regarding the recent decision to cancel the 2011 Annual Conference in Tucson for financial reasons. It became evident from the many comments we received, both supporting and opposing the decision, that further explanation regarding our organization’s budgeting process would be helpful to all.

From the onset, the Board did not make this decision based on the new Arizona immigration law. Personal opinions of Board Members cannot be allowed to influence such an important decision, and the diversity of the Board ensures this. GAS depends financially on its Annual Conference to generate funds for operating the association. Our membership dues alone do not pay for all we do: staffing, office rental, communications, travel, website, GASnews, the GAS Journal, etc…we need to make money at the Conference not just to survive, but to thrive. A poorly attended Conference puts a serious strain on the finances, if not jeopardizing the organization financially.

Without getting into too much financial detail (a budget is provided and discussed at the annual business meeting): the Conference needs to have a surplus of about $175,000 to cover all associated costs. In addition, a financial “bolster” is needed to cover the International Conferences, which are part of our mission but are also much more costly. We do have a contingency account invested for the long term, but due to the economy and conference attendance, this reserve will be tapped into this year. GAS therefore finds itself in a particularly sensitive year financially, which affects all of its decisions.
How does the Conference support the organization? In several ways:
REGISTRATION FEES
HOTEL REBATES TO NON-PROFITS
TOURS
WEDNESDAY PRECONFERENCE RECEPTION/DINNER (Fundraiser)
THE GAS AUCTION
SITE CITY CONTRIBUTION ($100,000 MINIMUM)
Our finances become critical when attendance is poor. The following leads to losses for the organization:
LOSSES IN REGISTRATION FEES
HOTEL ATTRITION PAYMENTS INSTEAD OF REBATES
CANCELLATION OF TOURS
NO INCOME AT THE BENEFIT
LOWER INCOME AT THE AUCTION
DROP IN MEMBERSHIP INCOME DUE TO LACK OF RENEWALS (SOME MEMBERS TEND TO RENEW ONLY WHEN THEY COME TO THE CONFERENCE)

All of this adds up, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands, and goes against our Annual Budget. How did this affect our decision to cancel Tucson?

POOR ATTENDANCE AT ANY CONFERENCE, DESPITE A BEAUTIFULLY PLANNED PROGRAM, MEANS WE WILL BE DIPPING INTO OUR CONTINGENCY FUNDS.
THE TUCSON SITE COMMITTEE HAD YET TO SECURE ENOUGH FUNDS FROM THE CITY OR REGIONAL PROVIDERS TO MEET THE $100,000 COMMITMENT, DESPITE GOING THROUGH THEIR HIGH SEASON.
THE PROSPECT OF MEMBERS NOT ATTENDING BECAUSE OF THEIR OPPOSITION TO THE IMMIGRATION POLICY WOULD HAVE MEANT AN EVEN GREATER FINANCIAL BURDEN TO THE ORGANIZATION.
WE HAVE A SMALL WINDOW TO FIND ANOTHER LOCATION THAT WOULD NOT BE OBJECTIONABLE TO OUR MEMBERSHIP.

We, the Board of Directors of the Glass Art Society, have a difficult job ahead of us. Not only do we oversee the programming for the organization and the Conference, we also have the responsibility for its financial survival. We want to be able to pass the Board over to future members in sound shape, as we have so far. Let me assure you that we have struggled with the weighty decision of canceling a Conference site, we did so to guarantee Conferences in the future.
The Board will be meeting on Saturday, June 12, at 12 noon the Rose Room of the Marriott Hotel for the Annual Business Meeting. Anyone who has further questions about Tucson, the budget, or GAS in general, should attend this meeting, as it is open to all members.

Best regards,

Shane Fero
President
Glass Art Society “

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