AGM & Board Updates
ELORA CENTRE FOR THE ARTS
Our last AGM was held Thursday March 9 2017
Update messages from the Board or Chair of the Board.
Over the past year and a half, Elora Centre for the Arts (ECFTA) has experienced a remarkable turnaround. With a new Board of Directors and fresh energy, life has returned to this very special organization.
The first order of business for the new Board was to put into place an effective financial strategy. Following this, the Board adopted a short-term Turnaround Plan with the help of ABSTRACT Project Management and Consulting. Although several consultations have been done over the past three years, the Board decided it needed more current feedback and information in order to set forth a strategy for the future of the organization. After receiving a grant from the Ontario Arts Council Compass Program, the ECFTA Board of Directors hired ABSTRACT Project Management and Consulting to assist in the creation of a three-year strategic plan.
Previous Consultations & Data
Sage Solutions - Rejuvenating the Vision of Elora Centre for the Arts - July 2014
This final report written by Rebecca Sutherns of Sage Solutions summarizes an extensive amount of research executed during April and May of 2014. The research included 30 interviews from a variety of stakeholders, electronic feedback, meetings with the ECFTA’s Strategic Advisory Group, meetings with tenants, and two larger community consultations. “The purpose was to gather wisdom, build enthusiasm and gauge support for a revitalized ECFTA.”
BRIDGE FUNDRAISING UPDATE
Our thanks go out to all the Elora Centre for the Arts supporters who have contributed to the August-September bridge fundraising campaign. We are happy to announce that we have reached $2250 and are just looking for another $750 so that we can take full advantage of the $3000 matching funds pledged by the initial donors. Your support has helped us to maintain a positive cash flow during these two months of high expenditure while we have been preparing our Fall Arts Program season and the amazing Twilight Zoo.
It would only take 10 donors of $75 each or 15 donors of $50 each to reach our goal, and it would be wonderful if we could do this by September 30. Donations can be made directly at the ECFTA office, or online through Canada Helps (see the link on our home page).
We’ll be at the Elora Farmers Market this Saturday, October 1 from 9am to 1pm with a canvas waiting to be covered in van Gogh-style sunflowers. Drop by and try your hand at painting a flower. Mayor Kelly Linton will be there at 9:15 to paint the first one!
Thanks again for all the support. Come October 12, we’ll look forward to seeing you at the Centre in its new TWILIGHT ZOO: Back From the Dead form. Viewing hours will be Wednesday to Friday from 5 to 9, weekends 1 to 9.
The Board of Directors
Elora Centre for the Arts
MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR
May 30, 2016
Warm spring greetings from the new Board of the Elora Centre for the Arts. We are happy to say that our doors are once again open, and that we are working hard to plan the future of the Centre. Last weekend we hosted the amazing Plein Air event organized by the Elora Arts Council. Over 50 painters participated, and on Sunday afternoon the Minarovich Gallery was packed with visitors for the show and sale. Huge congratulations to Barb Lee and Bev Cairns for this first-time festival of outdoor painting in Elora, and kudos to Kirk and Julie McElwain for setting up the Friday night jazz concert. Plein Air 2017 is already booked.
On Saturday, June 4 we have planned a fundraiser, LET THERE BE ART, an evening of music by the Eclectic Vinyl Orchestra, and a silent auction run by the Wellington Artists group. The Elora Brewery will be providing the beer. We’d love to see a big turnout from all our members and community supporters!
Art in the Yard will again be running this year, July 9&10. Jane Longman, our new office administrator, is busy with the planning and promotion for this outdoor exhibit of artists from around Elora and beyond. Jane’s office hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Our goal is to extend these hours to Thursday and Friday with volunteers.
We are open for rentals once again, viewing our tenants as tenant-partners who will contribute in some way to our charitable mandate for the arts through open studio, workshops, and exhibitions or performances. Another exciting possibility for our Spare Rooms at the Arts Centre is the setting up of co-op studios or work spaces.
The Board has worked very hard to find ways to keep the Centre alive and well, all while we look at future options that will be financially sustainable. As explained in our earlier letter to the membership, we continue to explore models for restructuring in collaboration with individuals who have expressed interest in the Centre. Once we have a clearer idea of the options that are the most realistic and achievable we will be calling together the membership to get community input.
Thank you for your support, particularly earlier this year when the “kick-start” needed to happen. Many of you renewed memberships and offered help. We have received donations in cheques and time contributed. It is this goodwill in the community that has propelled us since early March. We look forward to having art programs up and running for the fall and winter, and perhaps a sneak preview in August if all goes well. Keep tuned!
April 17, 2016
Dear Friend of the Elora Centre for the Arts (ECFTA),
We need your help! Please take a moment to read our appeal.
As you are no doubt aware, the ECFTA is at a critical juncture in its existence. If you were at either evening of the Annual General Meeting (AGM), you know about the challenges facing the Centre. (If you would like further details on the specific issues facing the ECFTA, please see the January 6th Chair's update.) There were two important outcomes of the AGM:
- the ECFTA membership elected an expanded nine-person Board of Directors (BOD).
- many members wanted the Directors to re-examine the proposed building sale and thoroughly explore options that result in retained ownership and operation of the building and lands.
Although the ECFTA is facing substantial challenges and pressing economic issues, the Board has decided to re-examine the feasibility of retaining the building. However, given the financial challenges facing the centre we have also established a Request for Proposal (RFP) Committee whose purpose is to recommend ideal conditions for sale and evaluate all proposals for the property, as well as possible combined proposals, and communicate their findings to the Board. The Board views running both processes in parallel as the responsible and prudent route forward.
Our immediate and primary short term areas of focus include:
- Seek the input and involvement of our members and the local community. This is the single most critical factor in a successful arts centre rejuvenation. Literally, we can’t do it without you.
- Trigger the First Right of Refusal Agreement with the Municipality of Centre Wellington. If a retained ownership model is identified as feasible this action doesn’t cause any problems, but is essential before we could proceed with a sale. It also creates opportunity and is critical to attracting numerous and diverse interest.
- Continue work with our RFP Committee, working very closely with the membership and local community, to develop and attract viable proposals that will be managed through a professional and equitable process. The Board believes that diligently pursuing both paths in parallel is critical to ensuring that the membership’s asset is protected.
- Seek a resolution to Canadian Revenue Agency challenges and current operating restrictions through consultation with a charity/tax lawyer and accounting experts. This may include legal restructuring of the ECFTA for greater programming flexibility.
- Develop a working budget to address some of the pressing financial concerns while we work through revamped operating options. Implementing rapid solutions to expand our revenue options in the short term.
- Work on a short-term business plan which could qualify the Centre for an operational loan. We will also be seeking alternatives to bank financing - i.e. benefactors, community donations etc...
- Establish a new overall vision for the rejuvenated Centre that will help guide planning.
- Reach out to all members, community interest groups and applicants who have previously contacted the Centre in an attempt to create partnerships/rentals that benefit all parties.
- Reach out to other arts related associations in the area about potential collaboration.
- Provide regular updates to our membership through email and Facebook updates.
So what are we asking of you?
We need the commitment and passion that was evident at the AGM ; we need you as volunteers, with the knowledge and skills that will help us to rejuvenate the Centre.
Collectively we need to determine a fresh, funky, sustainable and profitable vision for the Centre that will make the ECFTA as relevant as the town of Elora.
Without your investment, without the involvement of our community, we are fearful the Centre will remain an underutilized, undervalued and unsustainable building and business model which will ultimately result in the sale of our beautiful heritage building.
So what can you do to help over the next crucial months?
- Volunteer for office hours (phones, mail, and drop-in inquiries).
- Volunteer to help with this year’s Art In The Yard, July 9 and 10.
- Volunteer to help with our FUNDRAISING DANCE on Saturday, June 4 featuring the wonderful Eclectic Vinyl Orchestra.
- Pop into the Centre during the week (we will have regular hours as soon as our volunteers get organized) and see the current exhibition of the MONTESSORI ARTISTS in the Harris Room!
- Volunteer to lead or join a working group— possible topics include:
- Vision & Strategic Plan
- Business Plan
- CRA/Legal Matters
- Building (accessibility, building code, needed improvements)
- Membership & Community Engagement
- Program Development/Partnerships
- Request For Proposal – research and planning.
We are confident that if we can harness the collective will, talent and determination of the community we will be able to reinvent ourselves. Guided by our community collaboration, we will be developing programming and event themes that will support the arts and artists, and bring excitement and financial sustainability to the centre. If this is something you want to be a part of, please contact us.
Thank you in advance for your donation of time, effort and resources. It will help the Board plan for the near future, and to navigate the long term changes.
Please respond to our appeal by April 30 so that we can gauge our support in the community.
Email - email@example.com Telephone # - 519-846-9698
Board of Directors for The Elora Centre for the Arts
January 6, 2016
Dear Friend of the Elora Centre for the Arts,
Recent actions by the Board of the Elora Centre for the Arts have been the subject of comment within the community. In the hope of providing clarity around these issues the Board believes that it is important to provide some background.
The Elora Centre for the Arts (ECFTA) is a registered charity that is in the unusual position of owning a building. The costs of maintaining, a venerable and much-loved building are high: covering utilities, repairs, taxes, insurance and caretaking staff as well as mortgage payments has rarely been achieved in more than a decade despite donations, grants and fund raising activities.
The revenues from programming and other arts-related activities, part of the core mission of the Centre, have seldom been greater than expenses and therefore contribute to the annual deficits. Community favourites such as Acoustic Cafe, the Tutu Room and more, have been subsidized by The Centre, adding to the deficit. Over the years this has resulted in a substantial and increasing debt. We have now arrived at a point where we are facing insolvency within the next several months. To add to our woes, this past April we were advised by the Canada Revenue Agency that as a charity we may not earn revenue from rentals. In addition, we have also been advised that the assets of the charity cannot be utilized to create separate Non-Profit revenue centres. This has effectively brought everything to a crisis point that requires drastic action.
How much of a crisis? Should our charitable status be revoked the property and building, which are deemed to be held “in the public interest”, would come under the management control of the Canada Revenue Agency. The Board could no longer make decisions about the organization and its assets.
The long-term solution is to divest ourselves of the property, and maintain the ECFTA as a charitable organization that fulfills its mandate in a variety of ways unencumbered by building costs. Indeed, freeing ourselves of the burden of maintaining a building promises to allow us to reinvent ourselves in new and exciting ways.
To this end, we are exploring a possible real estate sale, but the process is moving more slowly than we would wish. Our immediate priority is to keep the building functioning for as long as possible for our long-term tenants, the Montessori School and the Elora-Fergus Dance Academy and artists’ studios, some of whose livelihoods would be at stake should we have to close. To do this we have to pare expenses to the bone, which includes laying off staff and shutting down activities that are not operated by the Centre itself. This was by no means an easy decision for the Board to make.
In particular, we have been proud to host the Elora Acoustic Cafe and Tutu in You, two wonderful activities. But they are not ECFTA activities, and unfortunately we can no longer afford to host them; additionally, with the reduction of our staff we have also been advised by our insurer that unsupervised activities are inadvisable. We are hoping they can find new benefactors and facilities that can house them at a cost they can afford.
The time has come to re-imagine the ECFTA. We are fortunate to have many ideas to work with: the Strategic Advisory Group’s Report, individual suggestions, and the long-term interest of many members of the community have created a fertile field. Now is the time to get those in the community with an interest involved to assist us in ensuring that there will be a renewed ECFTA of which our community will be proud.