Our members are creative thinkers.
So this year let’s SHARE.
Share our time, our expertise and our ideas.
Together we can do anything.
Each year your Regional Representatives provide to the SAQA Board a State of the Region report.
We have decided to share this report with you. This year we were given eight specific questions to answer and of course we included a bit of our own commentary as well.
Here is what we said:
SAQA CO/WY/UT State of the Region
Written by Bev Haring and Margaret Abramshe
Membership up 20%
Last year we had 155 members listed in our region. Of those 7 were from Utah and 10 were from Wyoming. 13 other member’s primary residence is other than Colorado.
Currently we have 187 members; an increase of 32 members or 20%. Utah membership has more than doubled from 7 members to 18 members. Wyoming has increased from 10 members to 13 members. The majority of members remain along the front range of Colorado in the Denver Metro Area.
The increase in membership generated additional income for SAQA of $2240. In addition our regional show had over 50 entries and limited expenses generating an estimated $1200.
Reflection on Growth in Membership
We believe the increase in growth is due to an emphasis on using social media, outreach to smaller established art quilt groups – particularly in Utah, trunk shows traveling to several venues, using short surveys to address member needs and our regional show.
- How many times do you hold regional meetings or smaller “pod” or “circle” meetings?
As our last report on the state of the region outlined, regional meetings are not what our members desire. In the past regional meeting attendance was less than 12 members. In our region outreach to established art quilt groups has worked well.
Bev Haring attends and shares SAQA information at Front Range Contemporary Quilters. FRCQ has a large and active group of SAQA members. Margaret Abramshe has attended the active art quilt groups in Southern Utah (Painted Hills and Red Hills) and has reached out to members in Northern Utah at a first ever get together.
In September, we held a Regional meeting in conjunction with a hands on demonstration/workshop by Regina Benson in dimensional display of quilts. This event was publicized at numerous non-SAQA groups (FRCQ and several guilds) as we are seeking to encourage new membership. Attendance at this meeting was 14 people — including Regina, one regional rep and two board members that live in our region.
- At the meetings, did you have any special guests or other activity such as a trunk show?
Our region has held (or is scheduled to hold) a trunk show on the Western slope of Colorado, in the central Mountains near Cripple Creek, two shows in the Estes Park area. three in Denver Metropolitan area, and two in Southern Utah.
- Did you organize any Regional exhibitions – small or large?
“Above and Beyond” will be on display at the Lakewood Cultural Center in January through March of 2016.
“Under the Western Sun” at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum will be on display in 2017.
In past years we have held a Small Works show in cooperation with the TACtile gallery. During 2014 that gallery closed, and to date we have not found an acceptable replacement location for this popular show.
- Did you attend any non-SAQA events that you were able to introduce SAQA and maybe sign up new members? This can include SOFA, quilt guilds, and quilt festivals
Margaret Abramshe has held an organizing meeting in the Salt Lake area at HandI Quilter corporate headquarters. At that meeting members were clear that forming an art quilt guild was too much of an uphill battle in Utah. Members were open to meeting as small critique groups and organizing shows of area art quilts.
Margaret, as the SAQA representative, gave a presentations in Southern Utah including the St. George Art Museum, Painted Hills art quilters, Red Hills art quilters, at the Dixies Quilt Guild, at the Sun River art quilters, and is the speaker in April at the Virgin Valley Artists Association.
Margaret has also been on a committee at Southern Utah University to support an exhibit in 2017. SUU is building a magnificent museum on campus. An exhibit of fiber art will open the museum.
In May, at the Denver Mancuso show we had an impressive exhibit of art quilts from our region’s membership and information was available throughout that show about SAQA and membership. This venue will not be available to us in the future as Mancuso has cancelled their shows in our region.
Bev attends meetings of FRCQ and several guilds and provides SAQA information in all of those locations as well as in local quilt stores.
- Do you keep current with a newsletter, blog, or Facebook?
We have a regional Facebook Page and post to our blog at least once a month. Members who follow the blog get a post in their email. We also reach out with short surveys and use the SAQA email.
We have found that sharing this responsibility (one of us writes, one of us edits) means we have good input from our many different contacts.
- Do you have any new approaches to gaining new members or getting members to show up for meetings?
We believe that meetings are not what will engage our members. Opportunities for growth as artists are what our members want.
Bev Haring organized a gallery talk by artist Regina Benson at a Denver venue on hanging work which is dimensional.
Recently Margaret Abramshe gave a talk on art quilts and shared the trunk show in the active retirement community of “Sun River” in St. George Utah which lead to a small studio tour in that community for those interested in moving from traditional quilting to art quilting. Each of these events was open to members and non members.
During the “Above and Beyond” exhibit several participating artists will be spearheading a professional development presentation with the local school district. Art teachers from 80 schools will be invited to tour the exhibit and participate in critique using depth of knowledge questions.
Bev’s personal experience with getting new members has been as being part of a small local artist’s group where she could share her enthusiasm for SAQA and it’s programs gave her the one on one opportunity to educate others about SAQA and resulted in some new members. It’s hard to duplicate this in any other setting.
- Did you organize any multi-regional events such as symposia, conferences, exhibitions?
“Under the Western Sun” will be a multi region (Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico) exhibit, that will open at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in 2017 and which we hope to have travel to venues in Utah and New Mexico
- Ideas you found successful for regions with challenges such as large geographical size.
Social media has made a BIG impact connecting members. Our Facebook page has helped our members share information and knowledge. The blog is now followed by a majority of our members, so the need for a newsletter has been replaced by blog posts.
Reaching out with the trunk show has helped our members share art quilts with more traditional guilds and groups of interested in visual art.
Ideas for the future.
Attracting younger members . When you look around SAQA there are not enough members who are younger (20, 30, 40). When you survey members most belong to SAQA to enter shows.
Potential younger members tell us they are less interested in competitive shows. They want information on generating income from their art. I spoke to one artist who will not renew her membership because there is nothing SAQA does to help her in her local market where she is most likely to sell.
Right now on our members resource page has little information on understand marketing in the digital age: ETSY, websites, twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. There is little information on pricing, finding sources of income in addition to direct sale, teaching, publishing, etc… This information was presented at conferences where only a small number of our regional members attended.
In the next year we would like to begin the process of addressing this need by helping connect members who want to sell locally in a booth at flea market, or forming a co-op space. We would like to help members find places to display work individually or as a group.
Final Word: Wouldn’t it be great if SAQA grew from 3000 to 6000 members!
Our goal as representatives of SAQA for the Colorado, Utah and Wyoming region is to help our much loved organization promote the art quilt. We believe the best way to promote this movement is to expand our membership.
The majority of our members tell us they need more than guild type meetings and competitive shows. Members want to grow as artists, connect with a creative community and most importantly they want their needs addressed. Going forward we want to work with SAQA to better meet those needs.
Bev and Margaret