November 1, 2005
At the last board meeting, the NAIA Board of Directors unanimously voted to raise membership dues. This decision was not taken lightly. It is embedded in how this organization has matured. Ten years ago, it was composed of a small, committed group of volunteers, who nurtured and grew the NAIA to over 500 members. Now, we have evolved to the point where we have a small staff, comprised of a salaried half-time Executive Director, a part-time Webmaster who administers the NAIA web site, and a Communications Director. The complexities of hiring qualified professionals to oversee the day-to-day operations of the NAIA have placed an additional burden on how the organization is funded.
As a 501(c)(6) trade association, our major source of funds is membership dues. NAIA cannot offer a tax deduction for donations. NAIA's newspaper, The Independent Artist, provides a small amount of revenue through advertising, and the silent auctions at the conferences also add to our operating budget. With increased attendance, the conferences have a chance of being profitable. However, the last Artist Conference was poorly attended by the membership and its future is in doubt.
Some new ideas for adding revenue include:
- EBay fundraising auction (planning for which has begun), sponsored by the recently re-named NAIA Foundation, now called Partnership in the Arts, Community and Education (PACE).
- Searching for advertising/sponsors for the NAIA website
- Sale of the Artist's Survival Guide
- Sale of a show calendar
- Sale of an artist generated cookbook
It is often asked: What is NAIA doing for me? What is NAIA's value to me?
I find these to be odd questions. WE -- the members -- ARE NAIA. We are part of the only collective voice of independent art show artists. Our dues support each other in an effort to improve our professional and artistic lives. The existence of NAIA provides an artist a place to add their voice. Neither I, nor other NAIA members that I have spoken with, have not always agreed with every action of the NAIA Boards, but we have always thought that the efforts of NAIA deserve our support. We all know that nothing pleases everyone, but we continue to give our best. This board is absolutely convinced that we require a paid executive director in order that prerequisite attention is given to the many issues we currently are facing. Our Executive Director has already proven her merit in any number of tasks and initiatives that would have been difficult if not impossible for a volunteer board to accomplish.
For almost ten years now, many artists have given time and money, some way beyond their dues, to support NAIA's growth, and to allow it to position itself as a respected collective voice of independent artists. This board and many other NAIA members believe that we are now in a position to make a specific, proactive effort to open dialogues on our advocacy positions with art shows, unlike anything that has been done before. The board has identified those issues that are broadly supported by artists, and position papers are being created. An Art Show Director advisory committee is being formed to both educate us on the other side of the issues and to help spread the word and aid in the adoption of our advocacy positions by other art shows. There is a renewed effort underway to contact museums around the country in the hopes of aiding in the creation of new art shows.
NAIA is in a position to flourish with an executive director, a high profile newspaper, and a plan to get our message out there. This Board, Executive Director and countless NAIA members, as well as so many supporting Art Show Directors believe in the continued value of NAIA. The next three years will be critical and telling in the direction and effectiveness of NAIA. Not all members believe that NAIA can be effective and make a difference. There is no way to be sure, but let's not quit now when NAIA is in its best position ever to do so.
The vote was to increase yearly dues to $95 per year, and to allow any member (including joint memberships) who wishes to renew for as much as ten years to do so at the present $55 ($75 joint) rate, payable by December 31, 2005.Without this added revenue and additional fundraising efforts, NAIA will be unable to afford a staff.
We hope you share our optimism about the future of NAIA, and continue your support.
Chair, NAIA Board of Directors
P.S. To see the date that your current membership expires, please look at the address label on the envelope this letter was mailed in.