With the start of a new fiscal year on July 1st, we had to say goodbye and thank you to four of our Berrien Artist Guild Board Directors, who have resigned or whose term has expired. Each will remain as volunteers for the Box Factory for the Arts in different ways, including chairing or serving on committees. We are so grateful for the time and energy each has given to this organization over the past few to many years.

As a send-off we asked each to reflect on they each accomplished being a part of the leadership team for the Berrien Artist Guild, managing the Box Factory for the Arts, and what they learned from the experience. Please read on.

Rose Narregan
“When I came onto the BOD (Board of Directors), I did not realize that there were financial difficulties that would get worse. At one point, I thought the only way the Berrien Artist Guild (BAG) would survive was if we sold the building. I was part of the decision making that we needed to lay off staff (in hindsight, we would have had to a few months later when COVID hit) and cut all expenses to the as  much as possible. The board did a big fundraising campaign after explaining our situation and with the donations coming in, we were able to continue the Berrien Artist Guild at the Box Factory. We added new studio space for additional income, got concerts and other programs going again and other fundraising projects so that the BAG can continue at the Box. While we still cannot afford to hire a full time executive director, I am proud of how far the BAG has come and look forward to seeing what it can do in the future.

Lesson Learned: Being on the BOD during such difficult times makes a person realize that it takes a team of volunteers and supporters to keep it going. It takes a village to raise a child and to keep the BAG going.”

Jane Rush
“I feel lucky that I was able to serve on the Box board. It gave me an appreciation and understanding of the moving parts that keep the Berrien Artist Guild and the Box Factory afloat. We have a great group of volunteers, talented artists, and kind and caring guild members who support and nurture each other. The Box Factory for the Arts is an asset to our community. We are fortunate to have it and I am so happy I was able to serve on the board the last four years.”

Stephen Smith
“When I joined the Board in 2020, the mask-wearing and social distancing that we had to employ at meetings were not nearly as concerning as the financial challenges that the Guild faced.  I am proud to have been a part of the team which helped to turned that around, and put the Guild and the Box on a solid foundation for the future.  It took some bold steps even though, reasonably enough, we were wary to take them.  Going forward, I urge the Guild to keep that same balance between caution and courage.”

Judy Sokolowski
“It’s been more than a quarter of a century since I wandered into the Box Factory and began this journey with the Guild. In that time, I have been continually impressed with the dedication and resiliency of the membership and volunteers. From my first experiences with Bob Williams and the “three musketeers” (the late Heartha Whitlow, Jean Gast and Barbara Willey), my fondest memories have been working with such a dedicated group. There have been many highs and lows; but the membership has always kept its collective eyes on moving forward.  Just as in the old box manufacturing process, our members are the glue that keeps us together for future generations.”
Thank you, Jane, Stephen, Judy and Rose for your years of service. You will be missed.