I have had some time to reflect on the 5 years I invested in the Oatley 101 Society of Artists as President, retiring in November 2018 from a full time volunteer job. A position I look back on with a great deal of pride.
Those people who are really passionate about whatever they take on will know that the hours (and self) given are immeasurable; the lack of sleep sorting things out is common; the writing, planning, communicating, preparation, coordination, overseeing different aspects and projects all at the same time are par for the course. The importance of team cannot be overstated.
What was done and with whom?
1. The Waterbrook (now Ardency) Art Exhibition.
The offer to run the exhibition in conjunction with Waterbrook was made to the society in writing which was tabled at a meeting in April 2013. The committee was dismissive of the extra work involved. I felt it needed more detail before decisions were made. I volunteered to meet with the coordinator for Waterbrook and gather the details to ensure we knew what was involved before the option was discounted.
What I realised from the meeting was an opportunity too good to miss, was being handed to us. I was so sure of the potential I was willing to run the exhibition myself if the committee chose to decline. So strongly did I feel I presented a thoroughly detailed report to the committee. The plan was met with opposition by some of the committee. However, the majority were excited by the potential to make an impact in the local and broader art community with the exhibition. An exhibition sub-committee of the most amazing people was formed and I was nominated to be the Chairperson. The team was the proverbial “well oiled machine”.
The high profile judges were all the best in their fields – David Brayshaw, Susie Devonport, Warwick Fuller, Wendy Sharpe and Chan Dissanyake.
The journey to the exhibition’s great success was not an easy one but with the full support of the Sub-committee, consistent meeting procedures, thorough paperwork and ensuring transparency paid off. The exhibition is open to all artists in Australia and attracts high quality artists to enter their art.
(from November 2013 I became President)
During the time of Waterbrook/Ardency, I worked with Julia Zuza “Response for Life” (providing defibrillators to community groups and schools). Julia, in conjunction with Rotary, was able to run a raffle to raise funds for the project and was part of the exhibition at Waterbrook. I facilitated the donation of 2 pieces of quality art from our members to assist. I was pleased to be a participant in 2014.
2. The Members’ Art Exhibition.
As a result of the success of Waterbrook I discussed with the committee the possibility of upping the ante for the members’ exhibition which had no monetary awards or sponsorship..
Sponsorship and a gala opening night were planned. The committee all took on aspects of the program. My role was to engage sponsors and manage the fund raiser.
Because various businesses had noticed what we were achieving they donated vouchers and products to assist.
The committee did an amazing job pulling together a highly successful exhibition with many sales. The following Members’ Exhibitions built on this and have been wonderful.
3. Other activities.
The art society provides a wide variety of activities to cater for all its members and the art community generally. They include Wednesday painters, Monday sketch group as well as demonstrations and workshops. The exhibition weekends include June sales, October and the December Christmas. The later has introduced a children’s competition. high Quality craft is also on display at these weekends.
Folders for each coordinator have been introduced . These folders contain the information about the activities so that should a new member step into the role they have a history and a place to start.
Was it worthwhile and for whom?
I cannot believe what a small group of people has achieved for so many others. Talk about the ripple effect.
1. Funds raised as a result of good sales at Waterbrook/Ardency over the years allowed us to donate:
~ $5000 to Father Chris Riley’s “Youth Off the Streets” Art Education Programs for young people transitioning back into society.
~ $5000 to The Benevolent Society “See Me, Hear Me Art Therapy Program” for those with a lived mental health illness.
~ $2000 to “Sunnyhaven Disability Centre” to go towards art programs.
~ $5000 to develop art education programs for community groups through the Society.
~ $5000 for the purchase and development of Audio visual equipment to support art education of our members.
~ $5000 to fund a state of the art screen lighting system to showcase the paintings of our members. I was able to pull together a team to design and make the system. The only society with its own electrical department.
Working with “Response for Life” has become a tradition and over the years and much has been achieved-
~ we have assisted in the presentation of 9 defibrillators to community groups in the St George and Sutherland Shires.
~ artists participating have had their profile raised considerably.
~ strong bonds have formed between the various groups involved.
For the Members’ Exhibition:
~ Waterbrook and PRDNationwide Harvey Oatley agreed to be the major sponsors with $1000 each for awards.
~ Oatley 101 allocated amounts for other awards.
~ Winsor and Newton, Conte a Paris and Liquitex presented a product prize to the value of $600 for the People’s Choice award.
Funds Raised from the raffle benefited:
~ Sunnyhaven Disability Centre
~ Oatley PS Mural project
~ “Youth off the Streets”
Christmas Children’s Exhibition.
~ Children and grandchildren of the members check terms and conditions and fill in a simplified entry form. They have gained an understanding of what artists do to enter an exhibition. They are presented with a participation certificate and those winning receive a small monetary award.Those who have been involved look forward to it each year.
All in all it has been a wonderful growth in for the society in a time when art sales are fickle.
~ membership has grown from 90 in 2013 to 238 in 2018 and is still growing.
~ more artists are participating in regular activities.
~ greater participation in exhibitions by the members.
~ standards of product presentation have improved considerably.
~ increased numbers of visitors at exhibitions
~ increased sales figures
So much wonderful stuff was done by so many people. The committee is a strong, accomplished and proactive group which is supported so very well by the members.
The camaraderie amongst the members at activities has been frequently commented on by new members and visitors. There is a depth of care, support and great fun.
For me I have worked with an extraordinary team and have gained much:
~ a greater understanding of the art community and how it works.
~ growth in my ability to communicate on many levels.
~ a greater understanding of volunteer groups and how best to manage the complexities.
~ confidence in myself and my art
~ growth in my ability as a leader to provide platforms which allow others to grow.
~ knowing it has been so very worthwhile getting involved this way.
~ making a small difference in the lives of others.
~ friendships that will last forever.
It was worthwhile and many benefited.