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Letter from the President – May 2020

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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.

Sincerely,
Brian Ferrell


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Letter from the President – April 2020

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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.

Sincerely,

Brian Ferrell
President
Society of North American Goldsmiths


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Letter from the President – August 2019

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For the last year, I have been working for SNAG as President-Elect, and I have to thank Nicole Jacquard for helping to make my transition to the Presidency very smooth. It was a pleasure to work with her and I am glad she is staying with us on the board. I officially took over during the conference in Chicago where I was lucky enough to be on stage with nine Past-Presidents. It is an honor to be a part of a legacy that inspired me when I was a student.

We saw the departure of four very committed board members and I have to thank Jill Baker-Gower, Diane Hulse, Anne Fiala, and Ezra Satak-Wolman for volunteering their time to help the organization. At the same time, Elizabeth Shypertt was re-elected to another term and we welcome three new board members: Patricia Madeja, Kee-Ho Yuen, and Jeff Georgantes. They bring a wealth of experience and I look forward to their involvement.

This year has been transformational for the organization, and as we reflect on a half century, I think there is positive momentum looking forward. But there is a lot of work that we need to do, and to quote David Bowie, “it ain’t easy.” But, we’ve had some excellent individuals step up with some great ideas on how we can partner with other organizations and I am excited to work with them.

I was also struck by the energy from the next generation of smiths at the conference, and it’s exciting to see them take ownership of this organization. That kind of enthusiasm is what sparked SNAG in 1969 so it was great to see such motivation in Chicago.

At this point the priority of the Board is the long term sustainability of the organization. Membership only covers a small portion of the finances so we need to find the funds to maintain our most important and popular programs.

Look around the website for some new things such as the Road to Success scholarships, the Goldsmiths ’20 call for entries, and the new SNAG Celebrates interview series.

In the meantime, we want your opinions. The direction of this organization is dictated by you, the members; this is your community. And to all of our amazing volunteers, we couldn’t do any of this without you. If you have an idea, or want to get involved, look out for our upcoming member online feedback chats. You can also contact me via email at any time.

Happy making!

Brian Ferrell
President

Society of North American Goldsmiths


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Board Members Speak: Brian Ferrell

Brian Ferrell photoWhat brought you to wanting a board position?

I am always interested in the spirit of community and collaboration that exists among a group of individuals. There are times when we need a break from our workbenches. Having a group of friends for feedback, support, or inspiration makes the time in our studios more worthwhile. It makes us appreciate that we are not alone in our enthusiasm for making. Many of the people in my circle of friends feel the same, so getting involved with SNAG board was pretty natural. Additionally, I had already been a volunteer with the organization for several years.

What are your plans for board participation (your committee assignment, fundraising project, etc.)?

Under the new committee structure, I am on three board level committees. Fundraising, Programming, and Impact & Evaluation.

What exciting, interesting, confounding things are you doing right now (in your life other than being on the board)?

-My current work can be described as tableware, furniture, and lighting. My materials are metal, wood, and clay.  I also recently started collaborating on designs with glass artist Adam Kenney.
-I am Associate Professor of Art at Seton Hill University where I maintain the Metal, Ceramic, and Wood Studio! We just moved into a new facility.
-I restored a boat a few years ago and I am hoping to teach my 3-year old son how to water ski this summer.

Can you share an anecdote of a fun or meaningful SNAG experience for you (something that happened at a conference, an interaction with another member, an opportunity that occurred through SNAG)?

The enthusiasm for our field can seem infectious within the bubble of metalsmithing.  Seeing all of the social media posting of people road tripping their way to the conferences is a lot of fun.  On our drive to Toronto, we were asked at the border why we were entering Canada.
Sean Macmillian exclaimed, “We’re going to a metalsmithing conference!”
The border guard squinted and looked confused. “What?” he said.
Sean pulled out his anvil pins and said, “Yeah! These are for the pin swap tonight! You want one?” He looked us over for what seemed like a few minutes. Jim Bové was smiling in the back.
“Just go” he muttered.


SNAG would like to take this opportunity to recognize our Corporate Members for their support: Aaron Faber Gallery, Halstead, NextFab, and Pocosin Arts.

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