Updated COVID-19 Response

Although the doors are locked and many adjustments have been necessary due to the COVID-19 guidelines, board members at the committee level have continued to work remotely on a variety of projects, some artists have returned to their studios and our custodian Sam has been on site keeping the building clean and sanitized. Please stay tuned for when we can finally open our doors to the public once again. 

President’s Report From Berrien Artist Guild Annual Meeting (July 27, 2020)

This year we should be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Guild’s purchase of the Box Factory.  There have been many challenges this membership has faced since 1995; but nothing compares to the ones this year has presented.

Last year at this time, the meeting was followed by a potluck meal and happy expectations for the year ahead. We had a staff of two full time and two part time employees.  Our financial situation was showing signs of fractures as was our roof and brickwork; but we were optimistic that better days were ahead.

By November, it was obvious that the board needed to take drastic action. We called an emergency membership meeting for December 4 to announce that we had outstanding bills to pay and the deficit was mounting. We had grants to match totaling over $38,000 or we would lose them. In an effort to get our finances back on track, we gave layoff notices to all staff except Sam, our part time maintenance man. It was one of the hardest decisions we had to make. We applied for and received a 6-month interest only payment on our mortgage. We appealed to our members and the community for support. And board members assumed the day to day operations, many in addition to their regular jobs.

By the end of January, we had received donations totaling $37,000 to match the grant for roof repair and other donations totaling $53,534 to match the grant for marketing and exterior signage as well as operations. We were beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Then COVID-19 hit.

Due to the Governor’s guidelines in March we were forced to close our doors to the public and for the first time cancel the first of two of our popular exhibits – the elementary and middle and high school shows. The gallery committee made the decision to move the exhibits online for the remainder of the year.

I am happy to report that the mountain of bills has been paid; the roof has been replaced; and we have contracted with Amy Kuchan to help with operations. Carol Myers and Betsy Gill have worked hard to bring needed changes to our website and Facebook pages and their work continues. The marketing grant has provided funds for the website upgrade. The board is planning a major facelift to the building’s front on Broad Street with new signage and a mural, also using the marketing grant funds. The committees and board of directors have worked tirelessly to keep things running as smoothly as possible without a staff.

As we meet tonight without the popular potluck and with some of you joining us via Zoom, I am grateful to our studio artists, tenants, members and the community for being patient as we work through the next few months. We are all looking forward to the day when we can again open our doors to the public.

Now I would like to welcome our new members to the board of directors – Dennis Gast, Jane Rush, Stephen Smith, Susan Solon, Jennifer Tomshack and Bret Witkowski. At the July 13 board meeting, the officers elected for another term include Scott Gane, vice president; Rose Narregan, treasurer; Linda Cooper, secretary; and me as your president.

I also would like to thank the outgoing board members for their service during this difficult year. Those who served on the board were Jon Sauer, John Bougearel, Kristin Hosbein, Carol Myers, Glen Head and Karen Walker.

Thank you for coming. Please roll up your sleeves and help us make sure the August fundraiser is a huge success. We are also considering limited building hours starting soon. Please follow us on the website or on Facebook for the most up to date information.