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Letter from the President – July 2020

Kat Cole 2020 SNAG Board

Dear Fellow SNAG Members,

It was just over a month ago that the Board of Directors appointed me as Interim President, a position I am honored to step into despite current challenges. The global pandemic and our ongoing financial instability has affected our organization in significant ways, forcing us to make tough decisions in an uncertain world. The expediency of these decisions were made in an effort to keep the organization operational so that we can continue to serve our membership and community.

I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank the board members who recently completed their terms: our Secretary for the past 7 years, Becky McDonah, Emily Stoehrer, board member for 3 years, Dianne DeBeixedon, who has graciously agreed to stay on the board for an additional year, and former President Brian Ferrell who needed to step away after our difficult spring. I would also like to thank Andrew Kuebeck for serving as the Nominations and Elections Committee Chair and welcome Sharon Massey to the Chair position on the NEC. Thank you April Wood for stepping into the Secretary position, and I am pleased to welcome Anne Havel back to the board for a one year appointed term. Keeping institutional knowledge at this time is critical for the success of the organization and we look forward to the upcoming newly elected board members joining us in the fall.

In addition, SNAG is overdue to acknowledge, with appreciation, former staff who have served our organization. Gwynne Rukenbrod Smith, who served as SNAG’s Executive Director for 6 ½ years, Kristin Mitsu Shiga, our Education Director for 2 years, Kinszia Erikson, our Arts Administration Intern for 3 years, and Alejandra Carrillo-Estrada, our Conference Planning & Education Intern for 1 ½ years. SNAG truly appreciates the time and dedication that each of these individuals has given to our community and I wish them all the best in their future endeavors.

For the last two months, the SNAG staff and board have been working to reorganize around a much smaller budget and staff in order to continue to provide the programming and magazine that our membership values. We are giving member updates through our weekly Riveting News emails and I would like to highlight a few of our current projects:

  • Instituting new committees to assist staff and programming. This includes new Social Media and Communications, Grant Writing, and Publications Committees. Interested in volunteering?
  • Releasing the Jewelry and Metals Survey Volume 3 digitally to all of our members. Coming soon! Plus we are taking pre-orders for print copies and offering a special rate to bundle it with Volumes 1 and 2. Learn more
  • Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Dialogues for members, staff, and board to have conversations around diversity and equity in SNAG and opportunities to improve. Dates to be announced here

For the first time in our history, the annual Membership Meeting, usually held at the conference, will be held virtually on Saturday, August 29th. We are planning presentations on programming, financials, the future of our annual conference, and the newly elected officers will be announced. This meeting is the best platform for you to stay informed and involved about what is going on with the organization and I encourage you to attend.

During a time when many institutions are closing their doors permanently, the measures that have been taken in recent months have allowed SNAG to avoid bankruptcy and provided the possibility of a stronger, more sustainable future. However, the board and staff cannot do this alone. SNAG is a member-driven organization and we need your help in order to survive and thrive. This means financial help — both the board and staff realize this request for support is coming at a time when most people are hurting financially. However, IF you can help, please consider making a donation today. Any amount is helpful and greatly appreciated in order for your organization to get through this difficult time. Thank you to all of our recent donors.

In closing, I would like to also mention that this global crisis has touched each and every one of us. Members have lost loved ones, jobs, and financial security. For those who have felt the biggest blows — our thoughts are with you, and we are all very much looking forward to when we can join together again and celebrate the field, and each other. I would also like to say that during these challenging times please reflect on what is important to you. What is meaningful and valuable to you. I encourage everyone to stay active in what you believe in and invest in the people and organizations you care about.

I hope this finds you all well, safe and healthy, and I look forward to seeing you at the Membership Meeting on Saturday, August 29th.

Sincerely,

Kat Cole
Interim President
Society of North American Goldsmiths


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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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Letter from the President – April 2019

Nicole Jacquard

Nicole Jacquard

Happy Spring Everyone!

It is hard to believe, but this will be my last letter to the membership before I finish my term as President… again! Therefore, I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for letting me serve as your President for a second term. It is a job that was not taken lightly, and with any organization, the board is eager about the future and how we can continue to support this amazing community of makers.

To each board member I have had the pleasure of working alongside – thank you for your devotion to SNAG. We have made some great progress and I am looking forward to supporting you in the future.

To the SNAG staff, interns, and volunteers who all work daily and tirelessly for the organization – thank you. You are all amazing and I am grateful for all your help, dedication and insight.

To all of the members of SNAGthank you for your patronage. Please keep the next 50 years in mind and how you can contribute to this diverse vibrant community as we all move forward.

As the days are slowly getting longer and warmer I am also reminded that soon many of us will be convening in Chicago for the 2019 SNAG Loop: Coming Full Circle. And what a fantastic way to celebrate — where it all started! President Elect Brian Ferrell will be taking over in May and it has been a pleasure getting to know him over the past couple of years. For those of you who have not had the opportunity of working with Brian, he is generous, has great insight in problem solving and thinking of creative solutions, and is truly invested in the future of SNAG. I wish Brian all the best and I know that SNAG is in great hands as he takes over the role of President. The official passing of the torch will be during the closing remarks.

Also at the conference will be the recognition of two distinguished awards. Mr. James Wallace will be receiving SNAG’s highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, during the opening ceremony of the conference on May 23rd. And Pam Robinson will will be receiving the Volunteer Recognition Award at the Membership Meeting May 24th — which I encourage all of you to attend to find out what is happening with YOUR organization. For years I have personally admired both of them for their leadership, creativity in their personal practice, as well as their impact on the jewelry, metalsmithing and blacksmithing communities.

I would like to acknowledge that four board members will be finishing their terms as well in May: Anne Fiala, Jill Baker Gower, Elizabeth Shypertt, and Ezra Satok-Wolman. It has been wonderful working with you and the entire board thanks you for your time, energy and all the insight that each of you have provided. Also finishing up her term on the Nominations and Elections Committee is Jennifer Wells. Cultivating and educating the members to the various positions of service takes a broad view and understanding of the organization. Thank you Jennifer for your input and guidance.

With this letter I would also like to say thank you to Emily Zilber and her hard work as the Metalsmith Editor. Congratulations on your new position and we wish you the best. And officially Welcome aboard our Interim Editor Adriane Dalton. Very exciting times ahead with the publication and how it will continue to evolve in order to serve the membership and the overall field. I hope you find the work challenging and inspiring.

In closing, once again I would like to reiterate that it is your patronage that is the cornerstone of our organization, as we celebrate this truly remarkable milestone of 50 years. Our non-profit has accomplished a lot and it is amazing to think of how it has grown and developed over the years. I know that personally SNAG has played a big role in my life and I will be forever grateful for all the opportunities and support the organization has provided.

Looking toward the future, I hope we can continue to build on what every member has created, and provide a whole new generation of makers — a community in which they can feel connected, continue to grow, and thrive in all their creative endeavors.

Best wishes to you all!

Nicole Jacquard
President