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.