Dear Friends:

Last year we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of our Gallery and the ongoing vitality and enthusiasm that we all enjoy as members of the CPA community.  Earlier in the year, I wrote that a primary focus of the Board for 2017 would be to revise and update our Strategic Plan. This would insure that we continue to build upon that spirit and create the right foundation for our next 50 years.

Today I write to report on some of the key results of that planning.

As a Board, we agree that one of our key goals is to maintain the financial strength of the organization allowing us to maintain a healthy future.  To that end we established the following Financial Goals:

  • To increase the Stewardship Fund to $2M by 2020 ($5M in 5 years);
  • To maintain savings account levels at all times equal to ½ the annual Operating Budget;
  • To increase paid memberships to cover 80% of the current Operating Budget;
  • To increase members under 40 to 8%; and
  • To grow the average membership level to $125.

These financial goals will be our guide in all decisions we make going forward.

Regarding Programming, we affirmed our Mission and made 2 valuable commitments.

  • To maintain, at all times, the quality programs and events in the Gallery that our members have come to rely on; and
  • To become a leading Regional Photography Organization with unique and differentiated programming and events

We chose these goals in that order because we never want to lose our focus on the Carmel community or the deep loyalty of our current members.  However, we also recognized that in order to grow and expand our membership we need to begin offering quality programs in areas where we currently do not have an active presence or visibility.

To that end, we will be testing a new concept later this year.  We have been doing active market research and have found that the greater Santa Cruz area has a number of camera clubs and photography enthusiasts who indicate they would love to have an active engagement with CPA.  The area also supports a younger demographic that could readily augment our existing membership.

Concurrently we discovered the 385,000 sq. ft. former Wrigley gum factory — the county’s largest commercial space at 2801 Mission St.- is being converted into an incubator for startups and studios for artists.  More than three dozen businesses have already moved in, manufacturers along with a mix of artists and entrepreneurs.

Representative artists include Lisa Hochstein, who recently organized a project pairing researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (which has an office at the building) with California artists. That exhibit was shown on site before going to USGS headquarters in Virginia.

Another major tenant is the Blitzer Gallery which has had a long standing exhibition of photos by former Rep. Sam Farr of Carmel.

The space has an energy and vitality that is the perfect venue for a CPA presence.

So, as an initial test of our ability to become a Regional Photography Organization, we have agreed to sublease the Blitzer Gallery for 1 month this November.  We are currently preparing an exciting schedule of speakers, an exhibition of contemporary works by local photographers and other events to showcase CPA to our northern neighbors.

We are all incredibly enthusiastic about this trial and will provide more details as we get closer to the grand opening.

In reporting this good news to you, I again stress 2 key elements:

  • This is not being undertaken lightly and will be done in such a way that it does not deplete resources or money needed to support our current Gallery, nor is it meant to detract from the quality of the programs we will continue to offer in Carmel; and
  • Because it is a test, it will not be continued if it does not live up to our hopes and expectation that it will augment, and not detract from, the important mission of CPA.

We’re off to a great start to the year.  In the meantime, I encourage you, if you have not already done so, to visit our current show, “Artists as Teachers”.  And I’ll look forward to continuing to report our progress as the year continues.

Brooks McChesney
President, Board of Trustees