LAC members met on on October 28th at Franklin Park Arts Center to learn about the LAC's recent work and plans for the future. The president's remarks follow.
President’s Report by Jill Evans-Kavaldjian
Welcome, LAC Members, to our annual meeting. I’d like to thank Elizabeth Bracey and Franklin Park Arts Center for hosting this year’s meeting. It’s good to see so many of you here — we hope to see increased membership participation going forward.
EVERYONE was there! Well, almost.
We invited you all here to learn more about the “NEW” LAC.
Although the Loudoun Arts Council was started in 1986, in some ways the LAC is new. The current all-volunteer leadership is working to keep the organization relevant to today’s artists, arts consumers, and arts supporters. In the past year the LAC has launched a new website, easily updated by LAC members, with a new, FREE artists’ directory listing opportunity that has the potential to create a truly comprehensive arts resource for Loudoun and surrounding communities.
So what else is new? In the past couple of years the Board of the LAC has launched several initiatives to bring artists and the community together, including an Visiting Artists schools program, an art display rental program, artWorks, a curated exhibit program placing local artists work in Loudoun venues (including Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn and Visit Loudoun’s visitors’ center in Leesburg), an art tour incubator program, LAC member discounts from our business partners... and more to come.
We continue to offer artShare, our local grant program, designed to give financial support to arts organizations, Arts in the Village, a co-operatively run gallery for LAC members, and our FREE, easy-to-use online events calendar and send event listings out electronically every month to almost 4,000 subscribers.
As we approach our thirtieth year, we benefit from the efforts of all the artists, leaders, and volunteers who have worked for the LAC in the past. As a result of their work, when people type “loudoun art” or “loudoun performing arts” into their browsers, the number one Google hit is us — the Loudoun Arts Council. It’s that terrific visibility that leads to great contacts — most recently with the Phillips Programs for Children and Families, a large educational nonprofit based in Washington DC.
Phillips asked the Arts Council to create a fundraising art exhibit, as part of their $150 per ticket Harvest Ball, scheduled for Saturday November 7 at Salamander Resort in Middleburg. This terrific display and sales opportunity was open to every 2-D artist working or living in Loudoun County. In fact, we sold the first piece of work before we had finished hanging the artwork. More than 80 pieces from more than 35 artists are included in the show, and the LAC expanded its rental display equipment inventory in order to accommodate the event. We anticipate launching similar events in the future.
As a nonprofit, the LAC’s mission is to unify Loudoun’s artists and arts organizations. Our goal is to provide a network for artists in every discipline: visual arts, performing arts, and literary arts. We are ready to bring the LAC into the future to extend the influence of Loudoun County’s artists and help arts and culture flourish in our community.
We currently have 69 Basic Members, 24 Premier Members, three Friends, and one Sponsor, for a total of 98 active LAC members. Last year at this time we had 45 LAC members.
We are working hard at growing our membership, offering 25% discounts on premier listings for members joining before the end of October, as well as a new free one-line listing — 9 artists have signed up so far. New LAC Membership cards were paid for by a grant from Allegra Printing. Remember to pick up your membership cards tonight. They get you 10% off purchases at Old Ox Brewery, and additional benefits are coming soon. Also coming soon: an automated membership renewal reminder system.
Direct grant support is a small portion of our current budget, as it has been several years since the County of Loudoun approved matching funds for arts organizations. The LAC has applied for two grants this year to increase the funds available for artShare grants, which declined this year to $2000; additional sources of funding would help us support our struggling local organizations.
Treasurer’s Report by Haig Evans-Kavaldjian (available upon request)
Arts in the Village Report by Vice President Mary Louise Ravese
In September the gallery celebrated its third year of operations.
As of November 1, 2015 there are 27 artists in the gallery
13 different art media
22,528 visitors since we opened in 2012
$176,563 in art sales since we opened in 2012
95% of sales go back to the artists, 5% retained to cover overhead
518 Facebook likes (up 30% from this time last year)
1,793 gallery mailing list subscribers
Other LAC Programs
LAC Member Anne Jordan continues to manage our Happenings! online events calendar and monthly email newsletter; everyone, regardless of LAC membership, is encouraged to use the online forms to submit events. Happenings! is now distributed to more than 3,900 email addresses, and has added over hundreds of new subscribers in the past year, with a 28% average open rate (compared to the 22% non-profit industry standard). If you have a special photo to share, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know. We will try to accommodate as space allows.
The LAC awards artShare grants to local arts organizations each year. Susan Trask is the chair of the artShare Grants Review Committee for 2015. The committee has completely revamped and streamlined the application process for the grants. The deadline for the artShare program applications was October 15th. Susan and the artShare review team will score the applications and decide on 2014 recipients in the next few weeks.
Board members Mary Kenesson and Alice Mullen worked with Loudoun County Public Schools’ Director of Instruction for Art, Melissa Pagano-Kumpf, to create the Visiting Artists Program. Sixty local artists applied for the program. The goal for this year is to increase awareness and participation among teachers thoughout Loudoun’s public school system.
LAC member Kaarin Nelson helped create artWorks, our new exhibit program that focuses on popular public venues working as partners with the Council. The pilot program began with Old Ox Brewery, who will receive four curated shows this year. In return, the Brewery hosts artists’ reception for each exhibit. We invite you all to attend the next artWorks Artists’ Reception for the current show, Focal Points, featuring the works of Jan Blacka and Bob Friedenberg on Friday November 13. In the next few weeks we will be working to create an automated application process for artists and venues interested in participating in artWorks. Our second exhibit venue is the visitor Center in Leesburg run by Visit Loudoun. Currently interested artists and venues can apply by downloading materials from our website. We hope to create an online database of participants in the coming months as we grow this program.
LAC board members Jill Evans-Kavaldjian, Haig Evans-Kavaldjian, and Mary Kenesson have attended several meetings of a new Loudoun Arts Focus Group hosted by Beth Erickson, Executive Director of Visit Loudoun. This group is working on ways to promote arts groups and businesses in the county, including the creation of “Artisan Trails” in Loudoun and Fauquier Counties. It’s a great opportunity to get to know the other hardworking arts groups and work cooperatively toward our goals. We will post news about the groups progress as they happen.
Board member Mary Kenesson and I met with our first potential candidate for the newly developed Art Tour Incubator last week. Hopefully this process will result in a new arts tour located in the eastern part of the County — stay tuned.
In this election year, interim Board Member Aislin Kavaldjian spearheaded the creation of a pair of Policy Surveys designed to measure support for public funding for the arts in Loudoun County. The public survey, which will be open through 11/15, has had 111 respondents so far. The survey revealed that over 50% of respondents participate in arts classes, visit galleries, or attend art shows, concerts, or performances “often” or “very often,” while 90% consider the visual and performing arts an “important” or “very important” part of the quality of life in a community. This might seem obvious, but before we approach political strategies to improve public support of the arts, we needed to make sure we are on the same page with our friends and neighbors.
Our second policy survey was mailed to local BOS candidates. So far we have received three responses, from Richard Jimmerson, Craig Green, and Ralph Buona, candidates for Blue Ridge, Catoctin, and Ashburn Districts, respectively. We have posted their responses on our website and face book page, and will post any others we receive as we get them. Remember to consider candidates’ support for the arts when you vote on Tuesday! This is another critical area where we can use your support.
Looking ahead, our vision is to expand all of our programs: to increase the number of LAC members, display equipment rentals, and artWorks exhibits, and create more opportunities for Loudoun’s visual, literary and performing artists and arts groups in our schools and elsewhere. We would like to expand membership and Board representation of performing artists and arts groups as well.
To celebrate our 30th anniversary next year, we would love to revive the LAC’s scholarship awards program for young people (once called Excellence in the Arts), and we are currently working with Loudoun Youth Initiative to see if we can combine forces in some way.
Of course, to achieve our goals we will need to to seek more funding opportunities, both public and private, to help finance them. We will continue this year to reach out to other arts organizations in our region to avoid re-inventing the wheel and create cooperative frameworks wherever possible, like our recent “Arts On Tap” arts mixer.
LAC Board Membership: Jill Evans-Kavaldjian and Mary Louise Ravese remain President and Vice President respectively. Mary Louise also serves as Gallery Manager for one of the LAC’s programs, the Arts in the Village Gallery. Haig Evans-Kavaldjian is interim Treasurer, and Karen Watson continues as Secretary. Other board members are Susan Trask, Mary Kenesson, Alice Mullen, and Aislin Kavaldjian. We currently have two vacancies on our board, and we welcome nominations or recommendations. We also invite you to volunteer to work with us on any of our programs, or to suggest new initiatives. Thanks once again for coming this evening. We will now accept recommendations and nominations for Loudoun Arts Council board members.