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Spring 2003

A textile artist takes his show on the road

ADA: Arts for All

ORBI to sponsor May ADA workshop

From the Director

Artist Fellowship winners announced

MAAF update

Reading Quilts

Strictly business

Are children being left behind?

Griffin wins national award

First Day

Bringing writers together

WV Writers annual conference


From the director: Getting on board

Nonprofit organizations have special opportunities and responsibilities in democratic societies. The privilege to pursue a public mission exempt from taxes requires reporting to municipalities, county governments, attorneys general, secretaries of state and the Internal Revenue Service.
If you have been approached to join the board of your local arts council, museum, theater or dance troupe, and the paragraph above has not discouraged you — read on.
The basics of nonprofit governance are always worth repeating:

1. Determine a mission and steer the organization toward it.
2. Use strategic organizational planning.
3. Determine, prioritize and strengthen the organization’s programs and services.
4. Ensure adequate resources.
5. Effectively manage financial and other resources, and maintain fiduciary responsibility.
6. Maintain legal and ethical integrity and accountability.
7. Select and support an executive director.
8. Enhance the organization’s public standing.
9. Recruit and orient a diverse board of directors.
10. Assess board performance (board self assessment).

Long before the infamous debacles of savings and loans and tel-coms, conflict and controversy were present in nonprofit management: Community demographics change, and a museum finds itself out of touch with its own neighbors. A performing arts organization runs into major deficits due to a manager’s poor judgment about advertising expenses. Presentation of controversial art forms spawns public relations problems. A major donor disagrees with with a mission change and withdraws support. A health and safety deficiency is ignored and exposes the organization to liability. Errors are found in the withholding and payment of employee taxes.

All of these scenarios require special expertise of board members and the diligence to solve problems cooperatively. No single staff person or executive committee should shoulder the burden of such serious challenges. The value of the governance structure is most evident in times of crisis and in times of plenty. Yes, boards need to exercise deliberate strategy when opportunities, even windfalls, require new decisions.

Year after year, nonprofit governance boards all over West Virginia must exercise the ten responsibilities listed above. Some board members will ask to be reassigned to a committee or task better suited to their skills and temperament; others, after long service, will resign. In rare instances, a board member acting without the “agency” of the group will be asked to resign for the good of the organization.

Nonprofit arts organizations that want to thrive must remain connected to their communities; maintain the highest standards for artistic performance and service; and balance growth with enough caution to guarantee that their mission will continue into the future.

Richard H. Ressmeyer
Director of Arts