The Nanaimo Arts Council board discussed the state of its organization at its annual general meeting on Sunday. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo Arts Council identified pressing priorities at annual general meeting

Group aims to improve fundraising and grow membership

The Nanaimo Arts Council needs to increase its membership and improve its fundraising and better publicize its activities.

Those were some of the main priorities the NAC’s board and attending members identified and discussed at the group annual general meeting on Sunday, its first such meeting since moving into its new location at 78 Wharf St at the beginning of March.

The group has been without a permanent home since the Jean Burns Building burned down two years ago. NAC general manager Dan Appell said the space is promising and versatile, but said the monthly lease is “the cloud over our head” that makes it hard to plan for the future.

“We’re starting something [from] the beginning, something that I think is really positive and really good, not just for us but for the whole community. And we’ve had people in the arts community very excited by what we’re now able to offer…” he said.

“Once that word gets out, once that starts to happen, then it’ll go on its own. It’s like watching a snowball go down a hill.”

In order to secure long-term lodging, the organization needs to start fundraising, NAC treasurer Dana Smiley said. She hopes to follow the advice of the group’s accountant and establish a $20,000 contingency fund, as well as reserve $5,000 in the budget to go towards fundraising efforts.

“I hope that with this new space that we’re going to get membership that’s more involved in what we’re doing,” she said.

“Because I believe in [the NAC], I really do. It’s got a place in the community, it’s a good thing for the community, so if we can keep it so we’re solvent, then of course all the better.”

NAC president Jordan Johns said committees will be formed aimed at improving fundraising and attracting new members. Appell said the NAC has to show that they are relevant and do meaningful work to better the community in order to grow membership.

“We do make a substantial contribution to this community and any monies that we get allow us to do more,” he said, mentioning the NAC’s festivals, gallery space and assisting artists with grants.

In an effort to improve member engagement, the NAC will be personalizing its callouts, rather than sending generic pleas for volunteers. Appell said the question is: “What can I really give volunteers that is to them satisfying to them and worthwhile?”

“Not just work, but how to make that work meaningful and then how to make it rewarding?” he said.

In his AGM report, Appell noted that entries for the annual Festival of Banners and Islands Short Fiction Contest are down. He suggested that he could use assistance in publicizing those events.

“We have a better idea now, with this space, of what we need to do to keep it going,” Johns said following the meeting.

“And it was very good feedback from this AGM to use in our future meetings to start achieving these goals and planning for them.”

More information about the NAC and how to join or volunteer can be found here or by calling 250-729-3947. The NAC office at 78 Wharf St. is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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