Looking Back, Looking Ahead 2017 AAC Annual Report

2017 is almost done, and it was a big year for Ashland Art Center. In late 2016, a new Interim Executive Director was appointed by the Board of Directors, and her position was made permanent in April 2017.  Soon after, we began to look at staffing and volunteer work commitments to determine how best to meet the needs of the Art Center, our patrons, volunteers, art students, members, and the community we serve.  After much consideration, we added a new part-time Administrative Assistant position, increased the hours of the Education Coordinator, and have a new Head Cashier. In addition, several volunteers have joined the cadre of amazing Front Desk workers.  
New work committees were formed, and artist members stepped up to fill the needs of cleaning and maintaining the gallery and studio spaces, jurying in new artists, hanging and styling the gallery displays, marketing and social media outreach, and much more.   
We have increased our variety of art education classes.  We now have a “Sip Series” that features wine and art projects ranging from clay classes, painting, drawing, jewelry making and more.  The series is growing steadily and becoming a real draw for people to explore their creative selves in a fun, supportive, nonjudgmental atmosphere.   
We also offered a series of summer camps for kids. Class topics included clay, painting, print making and mixed media.  Thanks to the generous support of donors, we were able to offer scholarships for kids from low-income families to attend the camps.   
Because we never want people to be excluded from the benefits and joy of making art, in addition to scholarships for children, we’ve begun to receive grants that will allow us to offer scholarships to lowincome elders as well.  The benefits of art education for older adults include improved cognitive function, social connections, relief from depression, and more. We are delighted to be able to offer opportunities to young and old alike!   
We’re also thrilled this year to welcome Central Art Supply back to the Art Center.  Central Art is now offering a full array of art supplies, including all the materials needed for our classes, in a space on the main floor.  They take special orders and will gladly deliver orders to the Art Center for customers to pick up. Platt-Anderson Cellars also opened a tasting room inside the Art Center.   
Our building has gotten some much-needed improvements this year, too, thanks to the generous support of donors and grant makers.  The classroom now enjoys new lighting, improved HVAC, new curtains, new paint and new easels.  We’ve improved the lighting throughout the gallery and added lighting in other spaces, too.  We replaced the carpet at the front entrance and added a security key pad at the back entrance to keep both people and art work safer.  We purchased new display units for the gallery and enhanced how art is shown.  It’s beautiful!   
Ashland Art Center held a donor appreciation party for our supporters in April.  About 50 people were able to attend the festivities. We’ve hosted several events for the public as well, including book and poetry readings, musical guests on First Fridays, the Oregon Nonprofit Association, the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, various art shows, demonstrations, group meetings, and exhibits.  Ashland Art Center continues to be a thriving hub of creative, intellectual and philanthropic activity.    
In the last few months of the year, we’ve been examining our business practices, rental agreements, and guidelines to update processes, create better communication and efficiency, stabilize revenue streams, and remain inclusive, collaborative, fair and transparent in our connections with all our stakeholders.  2018 will introduce some new opportunities for artists to participate in the gallery, new opportunities for artist members, and improvements to our studio agreements and participation.   
We also held a holiday party in December, 2017, where we were thrilled to recognize Daniel Seffinger as our 2107 Volunteer of the Year.  Dan has been a selfless, kind, humble helper – always willing to lend a hand and is a gifted artist and terrific person to boot!  We look forward to Volunteer of the Year awards becoming an annual tradition!   
We unveiled our new perpetual plaque to recognize the generosity and invaluable support of our Major Donors.  Donors who give $10,000 or more will be added to the plaque.  Initial supporters included Wendy James Seldon, the Terk Trust, Jennifer L. Miller, Robert Given and Barry and Kathryn Thalden.  Thank you, donors!   
Looking forward to 2018 we see reason to be optimistic and excited about our future:   
We will be working to update and improve the Clay and Print Studios in the Art Underground area.  Needed improvements include resurfacing the floor, upgrading plumbing, installing new lighting, replacing a kiln, replacing several pottery wheels, purchasing an extruder, and increasing storage.   
We are also planning new art education classes and events for the public.  Stay tuned for information throughout the year! 
We are revising both our Gallery and Studio Artist guidelines to allow more flexibility, more inclusion and cooperation, and to be responsive to the changing needs of artists and the art environment in our community.   
In early 2018 we will be launching a new, improved and interactive website to better serve you.  
We will continue to be open and transparent as we move into the New Year and beyond. Please connect with us via our website at, on Facebook, on Instagram, by signing up for our newsletters, and by stopping in to our location at 357 East Main Street in Ashland to see what’s new.  We’d love to share it with you!   

 As always, to our friends, supporters, donors, volunteers, artists, students and visitors:  Thank you for being a part of Ashland Art Center.  You help make this a special place.  You help us provide support to artists and art education for all.  You are the reason we are here!  
Life Needs Art.   
With gratitude,  
Dee Perez  Executive Director 

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