Author: Cornish, Rick

January’s Board Meeting

I celebrated my sixty-second birthday yesterday and had a wonderful day. Hung out with Lynn and the pack, dry and toasty inside while copious amounts of much needed rain fell outside. And Lynn had a masseuse come by the house in the morning for a birthday massage. Wonderfull.

Saturday your board of directors gathered in Modesto for its monthly meeting. Let me share some of what happened……

The session started with a presentation from our Controller, Lisa Burns, of this year’s operating budget. We spent probably close to an hour looking through the budget, identifying trouble spots and discussing remedies. This year’s entertainment budget, for example, was higher than the past few because of the board’s desire to create a truly outstanding line up for our 35th anniversary. At the completion of our budget dialogue, the board established a talent budget for 2011, one that is much closer to the norm.

Lisa reported on our new Winter Camp, sharing that we’re at roughly 145 registrants. We needed 100 to break even and 200 to max out. We’re hoping that in the last month of registration we’ll see more campers coming forward. During this agenda item we also approved a change to our June, 2010 Music Camp budget—we’ll be bumping registration fees a couple bucks.

Mark Hogan drove to Modesto from Sebastopol to report on the archive project he and Dave Neilsen are tackling. As a result of a suggestion from one of our members, Mark is pursuing the possibility of a collaboration with the University of Indiana, which has a very active and well known Americana Music Program. What archive, you’re wondering? Believe it or not, every song in every set done by every band at every Fathers Day Festival since 1975 has been recorded....first on cassette, later reel-to-reel, then VHS and most recently digitally. These recordings represent an enormous and invaluable treasure of California bluegrass history. Thanks to Mark and Dave for safeguarding it for future generations.

The board spent a little bit of its time reviewing policies on both rules governing the award of comp tickets for volunteers and rates and procedures for annual campouts. The plan is to review drafts of both policies in February and then make them available on our web site.

Tim Edes reported on progress made with this year’s Night at the Grange Concert in Morgan Hill. If you haven’t heard yet, the March 20th event will feature the Gibson Brothers, who, we’re pleased to note, are sitting on top of the nation’s current number one CD and number one hit single. And we’re even more pleased to announce that the brothers’ opening act will be The Tuttles with AJ Lee. To order tickets for the concert online, just click here.

The next item was a big one. If you read last month’s board meeting minutes synopsis, (you can read them all at our synopsis page) you know that we’re in negotiations with the Nevada County Fairgrounds board re: our Fathers Day rental agreement. And you know that the negotiations are TOUGH. The fairgrounds first offer was way, way beyond where we were. Subsequent give and take between their negotiating team and ours (Montie Elston, Rich Evans and Deb Livermore, with a very, very valuable assist from Bob Thomas) have brought us considerably closer on an actual percentage increase for 2010. However, and this is a BIG however, the fairgrounds leadership has become much, much more aggressive regarding other, tangential contractual issues. Just one example; they insist on charging parking fees for Lot A in 2010. This will only effect day visitors….not campers…..and only in the smaller, spill over lot. Additionally, the fairgrounds people will, under no circumstances, allow the CBA to conduct a pilot pet program. You’ll recall that, contingent on fairgrounds approval, the board committed to trying a dogs-only camp area at the 2010 Father Day Festival. Well, that approval was not granted and hence we’ll see no movement in the no-dogs policy in the near future. I should end this negotiations report by acknowledging the fact that the fairgrounds administration and board are going through some extraordinarily tough times given California’s twenty billion dollar plus budget deficit. It’s a credit to their team and ours that we’re close to coming out of a difficult negotiation with an agreement that both parties can live with.

Next, Jim Ingram, our new and exceedingly gifted Entertainment Coordinator, presented a very preliminary main stage schedule for FDF. I’ll tell you folks, if you haven’t tried to come up with a four-day, hour-to-hour schedule of music that: 1) meets all contractual requirements; 2) fits the format and resources of our festival; 3) will make the audience happy; and 4) will keep the talent from going AWOL, you just haven’t lived. Board members have a week to get to Jim with their suggestions, issues, questions, etc.

After a brief discussion, the board approved the deployment of a golf cart to continue the handicapped taxi service started last year by George Calhoun and his volunteer team. A big thank you to George whose dog-with-a-bone tenacity has finally make this program a permanent fixture at FDF.

As my colleague Mark Varner reported yesterday, the board of directors gave the green light to our Talent Advisory Group (Carl Pagter, Angelica Grim and Mark Varner) to begin putting together a recommendation to the board for Fathers Day 2011 talent. As with last year, we’ll book two anchor bands for the event this winter and the remainder after June. Mark, by the way, just rotated onto the TAG; a gigantic thanks to John Duncan who just rotated off. His leadership brought us some terrific music over the past three years.

A somewhat less riveting discussion was the painfully detailed debate on where to go with our electronic ticket sales program in the years to come. Our online ticket system is working pretty well, but now we’re looking into bar coding tickets, (e-tickets, snail mail tickets and gate tickets) in order to get a better, quicker handle on attendance and more control over the physical tickets. You say you’ve got some experience setting up a bar coding system? Please drop me a note.

Your board: donated two FDF tickets to Cupertino radio station KKUP’s fund raiser coming up soon; acknowledged that the Association will help in some way celebrate the IBMA’s fast-approaching 25th anniversary; set the location for our 2010 Fall Campout and Membership meeting—the Lighthouse Resort on the Delta; and made a $100 donation to the International Bluegrass Music Museum in memory of recently passed banjo great Allan Shelton.

Our final agenda item was the oft-discussed and never quite resolved topic of NEW BLOOD ON THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS. Yes, we dedicated a solid hour to brainstorming what we as a board can do to bring new leadership into our ranks. Sure, we’ve discussed this many times in the past, but this year the eleven of us are bound and determined to get an early start and to unearth some new leaders with some new ideas. Well, maybe ‘unearth’ isn’t the best expression but, darn it, we decided that if new candidates won’t come to us, we’ll go to them. We’re making a list of likely suspects and will be soliciting candidates in the coming months. Don’t be surprised if you get an email. And FOR SURE don’t think that if you’re not contacted you shouldn’t consider stepping up to the plate. I think we’re a good board as currently constituted, and I think that we’ve accomplished some important achievements in the past several years. But I also think, as do my ten colleagues, that it’s time for a new generation of leaders to come forward and guide the California Bluegrass Association through this new decade.

Posted:  1/19/2010

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