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From the Presidentposted 20 October 2009
I write to you after an intensive, but highly productive mid-year board meeting held in New York last month. Highlights included meeting in the fabulous Metropolitan Museum of Art and a field trip to the farthest reaches of Brooklyn, not to mention some business.
There is a Chinese curse said to translate to "May you live in interesting times." We do, indeed, live in interesting times. All around us not-for-profit organizations, especially, are feeling the need to trim staff and reduce programs and support. We have seen jobs lost, travel funding cut, libraries threatened with closure. I recognize that there is a desire to have ARLIS, as an international organization, speak up. Where this can be effective and where it is appropriate, the board has done this. For example, earlier this year I signed on behalf of the board a petition circulated by the College Art Association to "reaffirm the integrity and value of university and college museums," in response to the selling off of university art museum collections as well as one stressing the importance of resources such as the Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA). And, a letter decrying the abandonment of print journals in favor of insufficient electronic replacements is in process. At the same time, it is not the case that the board can, or should, try to intercede in the decisions of every institution making difficult choices, regardless of how we might personally feel. Indeed, we are rarely in the position of having sufficient information to be meaningful participants in the dialogue.
We are, however, doing what we can to ease the pain of our current economic conditions. For one thing, neither membership nor conference registration rates will be changed this year. In fact, registration rates for our annual conference have remained where they are for quite a few years now. In addition, we will be offering discount conference registration and annual membership rates for any unemployed members. We hope that the job postings and the networking opportunities during international and local conferences can supply some measure of help. At least a couple of our local chapters are offering complementary memberships for the unemployed.
Speaking of annual conferences, Boston promises to be truly revolutionary. Members responded thunderously to the new call for papers and I believe we are offering one of the best programs we have had. Boston itself will supply us with great food, wonderful art museums, and perhaps even decent weather. While we recognize that the lodging costs are not insignificant, we do urge you to take advantage of the unchanged registration costs and join us in Boston. We plan to offer free food at the convocation reception, exhibits hall party, membership meeting luncheon and four free coffee breaks, so you won't be hungry.
Finally, please let me or any other board members know of any questions or concerns you have regarding ARLIS/NA. We are your board, and we are working for you.
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