Dear WAS-H Members & Friends,
I hope this letter finds you and your friends & family safe and healthy. This wish is so much more meaningful this year, isn’t it? I am pleased and honored to serve as WAS-H’s President for the 2020-2021 year. I am also very grateful for the Past Presidents, Kathleen Church, Laura McMahon, & Louise Bateman, and to all previous WAS-H leaders with whom I have served with over the last 4 years. I am so thankful for our Board of Directors, for their leadership and their faithful volunteer service to our mission of promoting watercolor art. I am indebted to them for the support they so graciously provide.
We might call this “The Year of the Corona Virus.” The challenges it has brought to us this year could cause us to stumble and fall or to adapt and thrive. The question is, “Are we nimble enough to quickly respond to the new circumstances and end up with new opportunities?”
My answer is “YES!” Instead of pulling the wagons around and hunkering down to wait for a return to normalcy, we have set about recreating our new normal. We spent the six weeks from March 15-April 30 learning with other cultural arts and non-profit organizations how to:
• create safe spaces for our members
• grow membership
• continue our wonderful painting classes and workshops while in isolation
• continue our monthly gallery exhibits
• use online technology such as ZOOM, our own YouTube channel, and OBS broadcasting to provide events & instruction delivered direct into your home
It has been exhausting work, but also invigorating. While researching ways to create our new normal, we held these events:
• general meeting, with voting, and online art demo
• “20 in 20” painting challenge over Facebook & Instagram (Karen Armstrong, social media)
• 10 pilot online art classes shared via ZOOM, with participants from at least 7 states (Education Director, Nicole Hansen)
We have been immersed in mastering new technology and hardware that will soon allow WAS-H to broadcast each of our teachers from the WAS-H classroom out to homes across the country. When we can return to holding on-site, in person classes, we might also broadcast the classes to others in their homes. The possibilities are still a bit like Star Trek, “going where no one has gone before.”
Due to quarantining, we had to cancel our April and May gallery exhibits, but we used that time to figure out how to do take-in, judging, and awards all digitally, protecting the health of members and staff, while showcasing the beautiful work of our member artists over the internet. Today “take-in” registration opens online for our June show. Directions are on our home page and we are keeping our fingers crossed that there won’t be too many glitches. The Gallery team, under the direction of Paula Fowler, has tested all the procedures and are piloting a Help Desk to guide members through this new approach. As we explore all these new ways to be, we ask you to be patient & understanding with those leading meetings & classes, as we are all learning.
The Board of Directors was unanimous is deciding to keep our two employees and our three contract workers on the payroll during this season of isolation. Our administrative assistant, Martin Butler, has been checking in at the building weekly, answering voice messages and emails, and will continue to work at home thanks to technology, until such time as it is safe for us to return to our wonderful facility. Be sure to check that we have your current email, address, and phone number in our directory, as this is our main means of communication. Martin can help you with any of these.
We continue to see members renewing their membership, making it possible for us to continue our work during this challenging time. Thank you!
Around the world and across faiths spring is always considered a time of renewal, rebirth, growth and abundance. The WAS-H community has many blessings and I count the unwavering support of our members, our volunteers, and directors to sustain us through these times of unprecedented challenge and the difficult days that may still lie ahead. Please know that we are working hard behind the scenes to offer new opportunities and we are counting the days until we can safely welcome you back. Join us for our online meetings, online demos, online classes and exhibits, until that time.
Stay well, stay safe, and keep painting!