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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One More Step!!!

Last night’s meeting at Victory Gardens (Biograph), was a great success. Our speaker, Mike Nussbaum, answered questions and was a very engaging speaker. He spoke with us before appearing two blocks down the street at City Lit’s 30th anniversary celebration at the Greenhouse. Mr. Nussbaum was candid, and as usual, the membership asked very good questions. It was a busy night at the Biograph, with the League of Chicago Theatres holding their annual meeting upstairs, and the Saints holding a general membership meeting downstairs. For a Monday Night, theatre had a very active presence on Lincoln Avenue.

After the presentation, seven of the nine board members were called to the stage for a planned question and answer session. Two of the three officers, Linda Berg (Treasurer) and Andy Lingras (Secretary) were not present. Many of the questions were for the absent officers, however a number of questions were directed to the President, BJ Nelson. He and other board members did their best to respond, and hopefully, the unasked and unanswered questions will be answered in the Spotlight, and at future membership meetings.

The next scheduled meeting is March 22, which is five months from now. Perhaps we will have another general membership meeting before that time. Over 125 members attended the meeting, and most of the members stayed until the end of the question and answer period.

Members were encouraged to write their questions on an index card, write down who the question was for, and sign their own name. This worked pretty well, and hopefully will get smoother with practice. It was a challenge when people who hadn't written questions wanted to interject their own opinions, which were very valuable, but also used some of the limited time that had been allocated for board members to respond to questions. It also was most unfortunate that two of the officers, who many of the questions were for, did not attend the meeting.

The audience interaction was very valuable, and as a board member, it was helpful to hear the opinions of our membership. There were some excellent suggestions, and many points of view. We need to work on ways to encourage interaction between members, stay focused, and also make sure that board members get a chance to thoroughly answer questions. If this becomes a regular part of our general membership meetings, some of the questions could be sent in advance so that Board members are better prepared and able to respond. On the other hand, there is value in spontaneous discussion.

Questions that were asked included the following (these are from memory and are neither comprehensive nor the exact words of those who asked the questions):

Are dues that are paid tax deductible for the amount that exceeds operating expenses of the Saints?

Can the website be improved so that it is easier to sign up, calendars are posted, and the site is more user friendly?

Will the printed Spotlight be made available on a subscription basis next year?

Why was there a decision not to record how individual board members voted?

Is it necessary to bring a flashlight to all venues?

What is the criteria the President uses to appoint board members?

What is the rationale behind discussions about changing our 501(c)3 status or modifying the structure of the Saints?

Hopefully, the Spotlight/Saints Website will provide answers to these and other questions.

A commitment was made by the webmaster, Martin Frank, to post links on the Saints website to enable members to access sign up information on calendars that some of the coordinators maintain. Currently, six of the coordinators maintain such calendars. There was animated discussion about the printed Spotlight and the shortcomings of the current website. There is much knowledge in our organization, and we have just started to tap into all the skills that our members have.

The meeting was adjourned and people signed up for new offerings. Members were observed conversing and continuing some of the conversations that had started during the question and answer period. Others were signing up and interacting with coordinators - in some cases meeting them for the first time. It was a successful evening.

Feel free to post comments on this site, or send your opinions to the Saints Board of Directors. It is always more effective to state your name when making suggestions, asking questions, or voicing an opinion. Please keep the dialog going.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

General Membership Meeting

Come to the Saints General Membership Meeting this Monday, October 26, at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 North Lincoln Avenue, in Chicago. The guest speaker will be Mike Nussbaum.

Important information: Mr Nussbaum will begin speaking promptly at 6:30 pm and will be leaving at 7:15 for another commitment so it might be a good idea to arrive early. The Saints newsletter has a different time indicated so, please make note of this time change, and help spread the word to fellow members.

Following the presentation, there will be time for a short business meeting, which will include a question and answer session. Bring your questions with you.

After the question and answer period (approximately 8:15), the meeting will adjourn to the lobby for signups with coordinators. Remember to wear your Saints badge, and bring along your calendars to facilitate signing up.

Already, we have quite a few ushering opportunities that have not been previously made available. These opportunities will not be available to those who do not attend the meeting until November 1, when the Spotlight is posted and/or received in the mail. There will be no coordinators taking sign ups, however, until the business meeting has adjourned.

The meeting will have an announced end time and will not last more than forty-five minutes. It is your chance to ask questions of the board and learn more about the organization. Be sure to attend because this is the last scheduled general membership meeting until March 2010.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Steps Toward Transparency

There have been quite a few changes and steps taken during the past few weeks that will improve the organization. Comments/suggestions are welcome on this site. Also, remember that you can write to your Board of Directors and state your opinion, make suggestions, ask for clarification, and/or make requests for additional information. It is recommended that you include all members of the board on your correspondence/e-mails.

Some highlights of recent changes include:

Formation of a Bylaws Working Group. This group will be working independently and making recommendations for bylaw revisions and additions. There have been over 30 Saints members who have volunteered, and they had their first meeting last night, Tuesday, October 13th. Check the comments below the bylaws posting to find out what happened at the meeting, and continue to check for updates.

Questions and Answers at a General Membership Meeting. At the meeting held on September 29, about 50 members stayed and asked questions of the board. There will be a scheduled question and answer session at our next board meeting which will be held on Monday, October 26th.

The minutes will be posted on the Saints website within five days of their approval starting with the minutes that were taken at the Board Meeting held on Monday, October 13th. This means that if the minutes are approved on November 8, which is the date of the next board meeting, they will be posted on November 13. If, for some reason, they are not approved at that meeting, the posting will be five days after the minutes are approved. In addition, the minutes will show how each board member votes on each motion.

The 2009/2010 budget will be published and/or posted for viewing by members.

Observers have been present at every board meeting for the past six months - the most recent one had twelve observers.

I wish to encourage observers from the last board meeting to add comments to this posting. And any Saints member should feel free to post their questions/comments too.

The organization is gradually becoming more transparent, and there will be more information available to you than there has been in the past. There still is a lot of work to do, and we want to encourage members to become more involved in asking questions, making suggestions and volunteering to do more than ushering. Together, we can make the Saints an even better organization than it already is.