President’s Message - Annual Meeting 2019
As I stand before you, I thank you for giving me the honor and privilege to serve you, the members. I can’t help but think of our founders, who brought this amazing Club to us, and how humbling and awesome this experience can be. I can assure you that I will be working in your best interest and that of the Providence Art Club.
First, I’d like to thank my husband John for cheering me on and for his loving and unwavering support of me and the crazy artist’s life that I have chosen. I am also deeply grateful to have my sister Cheryl Gaucher here to share in this special moment. She is an amazing woman who shows me strength everyday. And to her caregivers — thank you.
Now, I’d like to thank the Nominating Committee: Chair, Shawn Kenney and his committee members, Pam Stanton and Harley Bartlett for their confidence in me and for the important work they have done by creating a skillful and experienced slate. I also want to welcome Susan Aitcheson and Carl Helmtag to the Board of Managers, and congratulations to Bruce Tillinghast and Charlie Wharton as they are re-elected to the Board of Managers. I would like to welcome Caroline Reed who will be stepping in for one year to fill a leave of absence.
The work our Board of Managers accomplishes on your behalf is very much a team effort. Please keep in mind the countless hours our volunteers provide in order to maintain and sustain our revered Club. I would like to ask all members of the 2019 Board of Managers who have been serving for the past twelve months to please stand and be recognized.
I’d also like to recognize the work of our General Manager and his outstanding and fearless staff who make the Providence Art Club a warm and welcome place where camaraderie and creativity thrives. They are all family.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am first and foremost an artist who happens to have a deep desire to make a meaningful impact on the arts in the State of RI and here at the Providence Art Club. I am of Italian and French Canadian descent. The pronunciation of my name is Gaucher not Gowsher or as the French would say Gauche. Born in rural Marlborough, Massachusetts, I grew up on a horse farm and am the middle child of three girls. Of all three, I believe my father would have said I was the challenging one, not so easy to tame. My mother Jeannette was a cafeteria lady. My father Richard was in construction. One of his crowning achievements was his work on our nation's capital. He was an entrepreneur, while my mother was more inclined to volunteer her time. She helped to create “Our Father’s Table”, a charitable organization to feed those less fortunate in her community.
As a young girl art has always been a big part of my life. I went to school in New York City at the New York School of Applied Design for Women, founded in 1908, which become Pratt- New York. I studied the traditional arts and commercial art, which led me into the field of advertising design. After working as an art director for a number of years, I went on to form a freelance art and design studio, and for many years worked with clients to create their vision while continuing to pursue my own. Perhaps I’ve inherited both my father’s entrepreneurial skills and my mother's volunteer spirit. I am the founder and past president of Art League Rhode Island, a non-profit now in its nineteenth year. They are having their annual meeting here at the Prov. Art Club. In addition, I, along with several artists, started a for profit business, Public Art Works, which brings art into public space. I currently work as an arts consultant and arts coordinator for Women and Infants Hospital and manage over 600 pieces of art in their collection. How fortunate I am to be able to be so immersed in the arts, and now to serve as your President.
This past year the Board of Managers have worked on critical issues including finance, marketing, governance and membership. We entered into a strategic plan 5 years ago under the leadership of our 45th President, David DePetrillo, and continued this very important work, so much of which was accomplished in this past year, including :
- A complete upgrade and replacement of our computer and operating systems, and our security system.
- The Providence Art Club Employee Handbook is finally moving to completion and print after an HR and legal review.
- A state of the art lighting system was installed in the studio.
- There has been a complete review of our insurance policy and coverages, and a compilation and review of our finances by the end of this month under the watchful eye of the firm O’Connor and Davis, and Mr. Ned McCrory.
- After 30 years we wished Mary Petrone a fond farewell as she stepped down from her position as bookkeeper of PAC. We welcomed Nancy Plunkett, our controller, who brings many years of experience in the finance and management arena. Nancy did not skip a beat as she began her work in the finance office.
- In preparation for the first annual independent audit of the Providence Art Club, the Finance Committee in conjunction with the House, Collections, Archive and Cafe Committees will be doing an inventory and evaluation of all of the Club's assets including all furniture and furnishings, fixtures, smalls, printed materials, the Collection and archival materials among our various holdings. Also capital assets and mechanical assets will be listed with approximate useful life expectancy and replacement costs. This project will be spearheaded by the Finance Committee with the help of volunteer members including but not limited to the following; Audrey Monahan, David DePetrillo, Ted Mattis, Nancy Grinnell, Dan Mechnig, and Charles Wharton, among others. Seb has also offered administrative assistance in the photographing and recording all of this information electronically. This is a monumental project that we hope to embark on no later than the end of this month. Any member wishing or willing to help please contact Seb.
Going forward, with the full support of the Board of Managers we will continue to pursue and address the critical needs as outlined in the strategic plan. Our Club is always growing and with that comes the need to stay current in this ever-changing world. Yearbooks from the past reflect the challenges that our Club has faced with perseverance. Thoughtful communication in the past has ensured that we survived the rocky times and have, in the end, thrived.
You have heard reports from many of the Chairs of our standing committees. Over the past year their plates have been quite full in creating, managing and producing exhibitions, classes , workshop and activities that keep us engaged, inspired and energized. There is no lack of volunteer spirit at the Providence Art Club. The coming year will be a very special one of planning and working in concert with the Board of Managers. We are all eager to get to work on the important business that lies ahead. At the top of my list is GOVERNANCE, and the importance of maintaining good governance policies. Governance may be a ho-hum subject, worthy of a yawn or two. To some, however, good governance is the cornerstone of all non profit organizations. It is essential to achieve our objectives and drive improvement, as well as maintain legal and ethical standing in the eyes of our members and community.
Best practice for a non profit mean establishing term limits, being transparent, efficient and responsive. It means being accountable and following the rule of law, in our case our constitution. It means being consensus oriented, participatory and inclusive. In the end, it means recognizing activities that strengthen and improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness. I am happy to report, that we have begun to work with Gayle Gifford, from Cause and Effect. She is a highly sought after consultant in the area of governance, who was referred to us by the Rhode Island Foundation. We are very pleased to be working with Gayle on this important topic.
I am particularly looking forward to the planning of the Club’s 140th Birthday in 2020, which we will celebrate with special exhibits, programs, workshops, community outreach activities and my favorite, a masquerade ball. We hope to make the year a grand celebration of our founders and the gift of the Providence Art Club that we all enjoy and everything that it has to offer. You’ll hear much more in the months ahead. As I enter my first year as your President, it goes without saying that I cannot do this alone. I will need your help and that of the Board of Managers, General Manager and his staff to make the year ahead a productive, rewarding and successful one. I know I can count on you and your support.
I will now entertain a motion to adjourn the 139th Annual Meeting and enjoy all of the special Strawberry delights that chef Drew and his staff have prepared for us this evening.
47th President of the Providence Art Club