Friday, December 16, 2011

2011 Report from the Executive Director

2011 Annual Meeting

Executive Director’s Report

When I started my job here in late February as Executive Director I knew that I had my work cut out for me. We had just changed our name to The Center for Contemporary Art, membership had been declining steadily for five years, programs were becoming stagnant, the Board was reduced to just four active Trustees, and some members and students were wondering how much longer the organization would be around.

While we are not out of the woods yet, we are close. Our Board has grown and, though still small, is enthusiastic and dynamic and easily does the work of a much larger group. We saw a significant increase in income from classes and workshops this year, we began to be known by our new identity, and our exhibitions and special events were well-received.


o This year we ran 187 classes and workshops attended by 771 individual adults and 680 individual children.

o The Education Committee was re-formed and is made up of a great mix of our own faculty, area artists and arts educators as a forum for discussions about all aspects of the Education program. The Marketing Committee polled our faculty, members and students to gauge levels of satisfaction and gain input for improved ways of doing things. As a result, changes to program offerings and course corrections were made and we added new classes and workshops in both traditional and non-traditional media to serve as a point of entry for new students.

o The Marvin Flowerman ceramic studio was reorganized and cleaned up by volunteers, the floor sealed and painted, a space created for storing clay and unfired work, and another for glazes. Most importantly, a kiln was purchased, new faculty hired, a studio coordinator lined up and a variety of classes offered.

o Until this year, all registrations were hand-written and stored in three ring binders. One of the biggest changes this year was the implementation of online registration for our classes and workshops. The new system is far more secure and efficient, and user-friendly for our students.


o The Exhibitions Committee was also re-formed and is made up of a Board member, a gallery owner, a professional curator, a University art professor and a working artist all committed to presenting high quality exhibitions by emerging, mid-career and under-represented artists to our members and the community. The Center also remains committed to serving our own community of artists and fostering the next generation, and will continue to present annual members shows and the Youth Art Month exhibition.

o This year we exhibited artwork by 336 artists, many of them members, beginning with the Juried Members’ Show, followed by Youth Art Month, the iPOP paintings of Serena Bocchino, the Non-juried Members’ Show and Water/Line, which came down yesterday. We were pleased to begin to get recognition with photos, listings, and mentions in the New York Times, the Star Ledger and the Courier News, including one full review of the last exhibition.


o With a new identity, fundraising was nothing short of challenging this year and we saw decreases of individual support in the areas of special events and individual contributions.

o We held three fundraising events: An Evening of Red Hot Jazz, The Art of the Garden Party, and the DADA House Party. We also held a very successful Holiday Boutique last month that we will certainly plan again in 2012.

o Membership at SAA began to decline in 2006. The good news is that this year we have slowed the process, losing 3% of our members this year compared to last when we lost 10%. In fact we gained nearly 300 new members this year, and 40 through the new database which displays prompts during online registration that inform the student of how much they would save on tuition if they were a member.

o We had good news on the side of organizational income with new grants from Investors Savings Bank Foundation and Provident Bank Foundation, and new corporate sponsorship from Team Capital Bank, CR Bard and Investors Savings Bank. Several grant proposals are still pending for 2012, including one to the Dodge Foundation.

Community Partnerships:

Partnerships have been the key to so many things that have gone on this year and will continue to be so in the future. In an effort to reach a broader audience, we joined forces with several of our non-profit neighbors in programs that were cross-promoted.

o We provided artists for the Dillon Library’s CafĂ© Salon series and jointly offered a children’s book writing and illustration class that was held at both locations.

o We promoted printmaking classes for painters at the Printmaking Center of NJ, and their visiting artist ran a clay mono print workshop here at The Center.

o We ran a one-day workshop for those affected by cancer with The Cancer Support Community.

o We have also been meeting with the Matheny School Arts Access Program and are discussing ways to partner with them in terms of exhibitions and art education programs for which we will jointly seek funding.

Next year will be a critical one for us, and will begin with strategic planning on the part of the Board and Staff. I believe that we will see needed growth in many areas. Membership will continue to grow as the result online registration, more aggressive promotion and new benefits designed to attract and retain members, even those who do not take classes. We will also turn up the volume in pursuit of grant funding and corporate sponsorship of events with the help of the Board and the development of event committees. Cross-promotion will continue with our program partners for classes, workshops and exhibitions that will contribute to a new base of first time students and visitors. As The Center becomes known in the art world, we will see increased critical attention to our exhibitions. Through list shares we will be able to market using specific geographic and demographic information.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Board and Staff who have welcomed me to The Center and worked very hard alongside me all year. Nothing that has been accomplished would have been possible without their efforts and support.

Elie Porter Trubert

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