Dear SNAG Members,
It’s the end of May. This past weekend would have been our conference. In a normal world, we would be in Philadelphia wrapping up our 50th-anniversary celebrations and experiencing the fantastic face-to-face community event that our hard-working staff and volunteers put together.
Sadly, this is not a normal world. Like so many arts non-profits, SNAG had its ongoing financial struggles. The conference was such a large part of our budget that the annual success of the organization was very much beholden to the success of the conference. The Executive Director and the Board all understood that having to cancel about 60 days out would be catastrophic. For the organization to continue, major financial cuts would have to occur. A budget was created by the Executive Director and presented to the Board’s Executive Committee via email on April 12. After discussion, the budget was taken to the full Board for a vote on April 23. The budget, which included eliminating the ED position along with staff and programming cuts, was unanimously accepted. At that point, the Board began to consider the various programming options to keep SNAG open.
With the mounting costs of refunds and the day-to-day cost of operation, further cuts were required. Having to let go of hardworking dedicated SNAG staff has affected me deeply. These are individuals who have worked hard for this organization, and they are people I greatly respect.
Since that time, the Board has been working to find a way to keep the organization moving forward. We have consulted a number of professional voices offering different perspectives on how to create a new, more financially viable model for SNAG. They have presented a range of possibilities that we have been discussing.
Sustainability for the future of SNAG was our original goal for 2020. But the acceleration of change, maintaining the organization, and finding a path forward has not come without significant stress. Doing all of this has put a strain on my professional obligations, affected my family considerably, and negatively altered my personal well-being. As a result, I will not be able to continue as president of SNAG. I am appointing Kat Cole as Interim President with the Board’s approval, to finish my term until an election can take place for a new President. Kat is a celebrated jewelry artist and has been a vital member of the board since 2015. She is taking on the Presidency under unprecedented circumstances and I have every confidence in her ability to lead then board with fresh eyes towards a new future.
The foundation has been set and the board, staff, and members all want to see this historic organization thrive. Consider the things that you value about SNAG? Think about how the whole community can step up and continue the mission of inspiring creativity, encouraging education, fostering community, and finding new ways to collaborate and work together.
Dear SNAG Members,
We hope this finds you and your loved ones safe, healthy, and maybe even embracing a bit of mandatory downtime.
As you read this, you are very well aware of the impact COVID-19 is having on businesses — especially small businesses and nonprofits-in addition to individuals. SNAG is not exempt from feeling the economic impact. For the past couple of years, the Board of Directors was working to improve the long term financial stability of the organization. Before the pandemic was declared the organization was just breaking even, but canceling our annual conference has taken a significant toll.
We are writing to let you know that we have been working very hard behind the scenes to come up with a plan to keep SNAG moving forward during these challenging times. In order to keep SNAG solvent, the Board of Directors had no choice but to implement significant cost-cutting measures. We assessed staff positions, programming, and considered recent membership feedback on what you value most about the organization. Multiple scenarios are being explored in great detail to determine the best path forward.
As we look back at our first fifty years and consider how we can best assure our future, we have faced challenging decisions. Like many similar organizations, over the last few years, we have overextended and grown much larger than is sustainable, especially during this pandemic. As part of this streamlining and reorganization, we have found it necessary to eliminate both the Executive Director and Director of Education positions.
In the coming weeks, we will share more with you about our decision making process, restructuring plan, and details on what you can expect from SNAG in the coming days, weeks, and months. We want to hear from you, and hope many of you will reaffirm your commitment to the organization by lending your continued support and time as a volunteer.
Additionally, we started the process of refunding conference fees. We are offering additional ways to use that refund to buy books, renew your membership, or gift a Metalsmith subscription. We hope you will consider these new options! The refund process is going to take us some time but please know that we will process your refund as soon as we can. Please be patient with us.
Overall we value the strong sense of community within our organization, and your support is vital to ensuring SNAG’s survival. Our hope is that we will come out of this as a stronger, more robust community of artists, designers, makers, educators, curators, retailers, students, writers — all the unique individuals that are SNAG. Out of chaos can come innovation. We look forward to celebrating our perseverance and determination when we are able to meet again face to face.
Board of Directors – Society of North American Goldsmiths
Dear SNAG Members,
It was just two months ago when I drove a group of my students to Baltimore to see the ACC show. Around that time I was also looking at train tickets to Philadelphia for the upcoming SNAG conference, but in the span of about two weeks, everything changed dramatically. Canceled shows, virtual exhibitions, homeschooling, and a canceled conference. This is a monumental loss for everyone. Not only will we miss the spirit of our community, but we’ll miss all of the great opportunities like Adorned Spaces, the trunk show, the gallery crawl. And in a larger sense, the general economic effect of this has touched all of you in the greater craft community personally.
We have a 50-year history as an organization, and this pandemic has shed light on the urgency for us to think about how we can evolve, push forward, and continue to build on what we have accomplished so far. The board and staff of SNAG have stepped up and responded to this crisis. We have reached out virtually with Social Hour, Studio Tours, and our new In Conversation series. Like so many other institutions, our backs are against the wall, and because many of the costs associated with the conference are paid well before the actual event; this is potentially catastrophic for us. As a result, we are implementing a plan to make up for this loss, but we can’t do it alone. We will need your help with this. We will be distributing refunds for the conference over the next few months. This will take some time so we are asking for your patience, and we’ll need the support of the whole metalsmithing community as we navigate this difficult situation.
Right now we are making plans to take some of the conference programs to a virtual platform. But over the next few months, we will be putting some of our programs on hold as a temporary cost-saving measure. This will also require cutting staff so we can preserve the most vital parts of our organization. As of right now, all of our efforts are directed at maintaining Metalsmith magazine and having a conference in 2021. In the coming months, you will see a leaner SNAG and on the other side, we hope to have a more sustainable SNAG.
You’ll be hearing more from me in the coming weeks with details outlining our transition plan during this difficult time.
In the meantime, with no conference this May, I want to put out a call to everyone to share with us your favorite past conference experience. I can think of a lot of great memories. At the 2018 conference in Portland, I got to watch four of my students present their collaborative piece at the Exhibition in Motion. Their looks of nervousness, excitement, and eventual satisfaction were infectious. I look forward to moments like that again. Until we have that time together, I invite you to share your past conference experiences with us on Instagram. Use the hashtag #SNAGconferencememories in your post. Then take a moment to go on our Instagram profile and click the donate button, every bit will make a huge difference.
Please stay safe during this unprecedented time.
Society of North American Goldsmiths