Saturday, June 4, 2011

A word from NCECA

Dear NCECA Members -

It's the night before our May Board meeting and I thought I'd share some thoughts with you as the team is about to go forward with budgeting, and programming for Seattle, etc. (These are my favorite meetings because we get to talk directly about ceramic art and work to craft the best program we can from the submissions we have received from our members.)

I haven't written you since before the Florida conference. Like all conferences there were strengths and struggles. What I heard about the exhibitions was generally very good although I also heard they were spread out too far. (Each city has its own unique challenges.) I heard good things about programming, but it was a bit of a walk between the hotels and the convention center. We will break down our survey results regarding the conference during the May meeting.

There was some talk of the attendance being down for the 2011 conference. This was certainly the case. Although I had thought that Florida would be a conference destination that would draw many attendees due to its East Coast location and sunny climes at the end of what has been for many a long, hard winter. These predictions did not pan out and our registration numbers were down significantly. While this made the feel of the conference a bit more intimate to my mind, a lot of people missed seeing many of their friends who have regularly attended the conference.

There are other ramifications of having low conference registration numbers, not the least of which is budgetary. This is your organization and I want to reassure you that we are healthy regarding our fiscal status. We estimated pretty wrong on our conference revenue numbers. Although the cost of participating in NCECA's conference is a great value compared with those produced by other similar organizations, the cost of travel, lodging and food make the decision to attend the conference a difficult one in challenging times. This Board is acutely aware that the earned revenues derived from this annual event represent our major income for the year. When our numbers are down the organization can suffer, but this year we also managed to control spending in a few areas and we have also done very well with our investments. The Board and staff's fiscal discipline combined with the good fortune of the market have effectively enabled us to end the year with a balanced the budget. We ultimately strive to respond to membership interests and provide the best programming possible as this would enable us to achieve our budgetary goals through high levels of conference attendance. The reason is that this guiding principal best meets our educational mission to have our clay people experiencing our clay programming.) [We'll project more conservatively for next year.]

Finally, I am happy to report that we will be budgeting in direct response to our new Strategic Plan. Often budgeting simply echoes how money has been spent in the past, and certainly our traditions and historic patterns will continue to influence our budget, but with a Strategic Plan in hand we can really choose to put our money where our values are.

Enjoying my work on NCECA's behalf,
Keith J. Williams

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