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Report from the October 2010 Board of Directors Meeting

posted by Linda Downs — Oct 11, 2011

The CAA Board of Directors held its fall meeting in New York on Saturday and Sunday, October 22–23, 2010. Twenty-two board members attended in person or joined by conference call.

President Barbara Nesin organized the biennial retreat for Saturday, which took place in the office of the law firm Debevoise and Plimpton. To bring everyone up to date with governance responsibilities, several board members and outside consultants discussed such topics as fiduciary obligation, directors’ and officers’ insurance, business planning, and diversity. Jeffrey Cunard, longtime CAA counsel, reviewed the board’s key roles: maintaining authority and accepting accountability; setting organizational direction; providing oversight; and ensuring necessary resources. In addition, he discussed how a board acts in accordance with legal standards and its three requirements: duty of care (stay informed and ask questions); duty of loyalty (show undivided allegiance to the organization’s welfare); and duty of compliance (stay faithful to the organization’s mission).

Michael Fahlund, deputy director, covered board-liability and errors-and-omissions insurance regarding publishing. Chinwe Onyeagoro from O-H Community Partners, an economic-development consulting firm, discussed institutional business planning for economic and social value, and Yasmin Ramirez of Hunter College’s Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños spoke on “The Creative Class of Color and Its Implications for CAA,” which urged the board to engage in community-based artists’ initiatives. David Moughalian, dean of the Art Institute of New York, facilitated the retreat as moderator.

On Sunday, the board convened with seven senior-staff members in a conference room at the Jolly Madison Hotel in New York to discuss current and future CAA business. The meeting addressed financial matters first. Teresa Lopez, chief financial officer, presented a report from the board treasurer, Jack Hyland, Jr., on the annual audit of CAA accounts carried out by Eisner Amper Accountants and Advisors. The board approved the results and, since all was in order, made no recommendations for changes of procedure or controls. Hyland congratulated the staff for achieving a balanced budget in fiscal year 2010 for the first time in seven years. The approved budget for the current fiscal year (2011) is balanced, and programs and publications that saw reductions last year were restored. CAA’s investments as of June 30, 2010, were at $7,136,565—up from $6,760,944. An impending CAA office move next summer, however, will require a draw on investments.

Linda Downs, executive director, reported that CAA has made progress in all seven goal areas in the 2010–2015 Strategic Plan. In particular, a weekly CAA News email introduced in September addressed the first goal of the plan: increased communication with members. In addition, two recently formed groups have been reviewing editorial procedures and investigating publications that meet needs expressed by CAA members. The Task Force on Editorial Safeguards, chaired by Anne Collins Goodyear, vice president for publications, will present formal recommendations at the February 2011 board meeting. Patricia McDonnell, board member and chair of the Task Force on Practical Publications, anticipated that her team will need eighteen months to complete its charge of investigating related publications at other associations, surveying members on specific topics, establishing procedures for determining subjects, soliciting participation, and vetting manuscripts. The board agreed that CAA would need to develop a sustainable business plan if the program moved forward. Goodyear also updated the board on developments for online versions of CAA’s printed Graduate Programs in Art History and Graduate Programs in the Visual Arts, which are currently being assembled and updated. Web-based access will better serve students seeking to apply to graduate programs.

CAA members helped fulfill a strategic goal to develop leadership capacity last February when they voted to change the organization’s By-laws to allow up to three appointed directors from outside the visual arts to join the board. A nominating committee headed by Maria Ann Conelli, vice president for committees, has been formed to identify candidates for these new positions who would bring additional expertise such as marketing, finance, and fundraising to the board.

Paul Jaskot, past president, presented steps needed for agreements to copublish The Art Bulletin and Art Journal with, for example, a university press or other institution, and for online development of the journals. Member surveys, he said, can determine the value of CAA’s publications and the need for online applications, research on possible copublishers, and a business analysis and plan for all three journals. Goodyear recommended that the strategic plan’s priority ranking for digital publications be changed from low to high, which the board approved.

Downs reported on Centennial programs for upcoming Annual Conferences in New York (2011) and Los Angeles (2012). The strategic plan calls on the organization to reimagine and reinvigorate approaches to the conference. As part of that effort, Jaskot has asked major artists, scholars, and professionals in the visual arts to address core concepts of “feminism,” “experience,” “art/technology,” and other broad topics for debate and discussion in special conference sessions. Thus far, Norma Broude, Griselda Pollock, Eduard Duval-Carrié, Robert S. Nelson, Mark Tribe, and Chris Csikszentmihályi have agreed to organize these interdisciplinary sessions. The 2011 conference will also highlight a major Centennial publication, a history of CAA entitled The Eye, the Hand, the Mind: 100 Years of the College Art Association. Edited by Susan Ball with contributions by fourteen authors, the book will be published by Rutgers University Press in January and made available at the conference.

Downs then discussed Centennial publications projects outlined in the strategic plan. The editorial boards of CAA’s three journals are proceeding with their “virtual anthologies” of significant articles, reviews, and projects from the full run of back issues, with introductory material, that will appear on the CAA website. Recommended texts for the two print publications will appear as links to JSTOR; caa.reviews will highlight its selections on its own website. The editorial board for The Art Bulletin has identified thirty-two essays from past issues, with six general introductions explaining how and why they were chosen. (This method was preferred to framing each text individually.) The Art Journal Editorial Board worked in the other direction. Howard Singerman, reviews editor, volunteered to research and write an essay on the history of the journal; editorial-board members will read it and then recommend archival texts, which will likely include artists’ projects as well as essays and reviews. The unique online nature of caa.reviews led the journal’s editorial board to a different approach. By means of analytical information, it determined the most-read review for each of the journal’s twelve years. The project thus has a populist, “readers’ choice” element to it. Editorial-board members are now writing short introductions to each review (200–300 words), and the editor-in-chief, Lucy Oakley, is writing an omnibus introductory essay. Goodyear announced new members of the Publications Committee and the caa.reviews Editorial Board, and presented preliminary plans for a larger web presence for Art Journal. CAA will announce these plans when they are finalized in January 2011.

Sue Gollifer, vice president for Annual Conference, outlined a proposal to create a celebratory event at the upcoming Annual Members’ Business Meeting at the New York conference. In addition to announcing results of the 2011–15 board election, the business meeting will address critical issues in the visual arts to be raised by members.

To determine how CAA may better interact with and address the needs of its affiliated societies, Jean Miller, a new board member, interviewed more that forty affiliate leaders as a follow-up to the first meeting with them held at the Chicago conference in February 2010. She presented a wealth of information from her conversations, which revealed that affiliates have a wide range of needs and interests and are eager to open more lines of communication. CAA staff has also redesigned the website to give affiliates a greater presence on the homepage, and CAA News is running monthly announcements of Affiliated Society News instead of every two months. Miller will lead a second face-to-face meeting with leaders from affiliates at the New York conference in February.

Jaskot, chair of the Task Force on the Use of Animals and Human Subjects in Art, said he is currently forming the group. The task force, established by the board at its February 2010 meeting, will carry out research on guidelines and best practices related to the use of animals and human subjects in visual art and investigate related standards adopted by other organizations.

Since the lease for CAA’s office in New York is ending in July 2011, the staff has been searching for new office space in Manhattan. Downs and Carri Lyon of the real-estate firm Cushman and Wakefield presented several options. Since September 11, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation has provided incentives to attract nonprofit organizations to the Wall Street area. Judging from square-foot prices elsewhere, the downtown area appears to be the optimal location for the new CAA office. Plans to move in July 2011 are still on track.

The board will next meet for a full-day meeting on Sunday, February 13, one day after the 2011 Annual Conference ends. The directors welcome your thoughts on the above issues and more; please make sure you attend the Annual Members’ Business Meeting to discuss critical issues in the field, welcome newly elected board members, and toast CAA’s one-hundredth birthday.

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