Dear SAMA Members, Past and Present,
SAMA has overcome many financial challenges throughout our 21-year history. Leading up to the current pandemic, we were faced with increasingly difficult choices to ensure we were providing value to our members with high quality service and programs. These challenges were discussed at past General Member Meetings. We have outlined the declining membership, sponsorship, and program participation income alongside the rising costs to operate effectively.
The Board of Trustees and Staff have worked hard to serve our members while ensuring SAMA’s solvency in the face of our ultimate challenges brought on by the pandemic and the cancellation of our in-person events planned for Tucson, 2020.
With the cancellation of the Tucson Conference, we faced over $200K in refunds and cancellation penalties and were able to honor those refunds by working additional programming throughout this year. We are extremely grateful to many generous members and sponsors who did not take the refund and/or allowed us to apply credits to donations, membership renewals and our virtual programming.
Upon conclusion of our recent Fall Virtual Gathering Event and our annual fiscal year on September 30th, we have deeply examined our current financial health while also weighing projections moving forward. We are facing ongoing deficits and we are unable to continue operations without drastic changes. Preserving SAMA’s future will take a fundamental shift in how SAMA operates, including all benefits and programs.
Our current volunteer Board of Trustees has collectively served SAMA for a combined total of 65 years. It is the job of the Board of Trustees to exercise judicious fiscal responsibility. The decisions I am about to outline were considered with great care, long deliberation and with the utmost devotion to what is best for SAMA moving forward. I am grateful to be surrounded by a group of devoted and strong leaders who have our members’ best interest at heart.
With a current active Membership of just over 800 members, membership, sponsorship and donation revenues can no longer support the staff and technology systems we currently pay to facilitate our programing, benefits, and daily operations.
Effective October 31, 2021, we will suspend future production of the quarterly eJournal, Groutline, including our advertising program and will not renew our contract with Shawn Newton, of Shawn Newton Designs. Shawn has been editor and digital designer of Groutline since Fall of 2014. Her publication industry expertise combined with her passion and skill as a mosaic artist, made her the perfect fit to elevate our publication to a worldwide source for what is current and exciting in the mosaic art world. Her work to produce our printed Anthologies and her contributions to the conference and exhibition publications in collaboration with Tim Stassines, helped us set the standard for presenting mosaic art in print. We will be forever grateful for the contributions these two professionals have made to SAMA’s legacy.
Additionally, the Board of Trustees has accepted the resignation of our Executive Director, Dawnmarie Zimmerman, effective December 31, 2021. Her contributions serving SAMA for 17 years are unmeasurable and we are grateful for the years of conferences, exhibitions, and special events we all enjoyed. I can’t overstate the amount of ‘behind the scenes’ work she does for us, it can’t be calculated. She has generously agreed to relinquish her salary for the final two months of her post and serve SAMA as a volunteer to ensure the smooth transition of our operation back to its origins as a 100% volunteer organization.
The website itself will undergo changes as we end contracts with technical applications and move the current member data into a more cost effective and safe data management solution. The 21-year collection of Groutline in pdf form will remain available and accessible for all current members on the website. The SAMA store will still make available all in-stock publications and remaining SAMA merchandise; however, no new publications, merchandise or programming will be produced at this time. These financial cutbacks will necessitate suspension of the following programs:
- Mosaic Arts International (both in-person and virtual)
- American Mosaic Summit Conference (both in-person and virtual)
- 100 Moments in Mosaic
- Virtual Arts Gatherings
- Artist Gallery Seasonal Markets-the current marketplace will stay live through November 30, 2021
- Robin Brett Mosaic Scholarship Program
In addition, effective immediately, all Auto-Renewals on Memberships and Recurring Donations have been terminated and credit card information that facilitated those auto-payments has been deleted with our credit card processing company.
We have suspended accepting new memberships or renewals while we undergo the process to restructure our membership offerings, but current members will remain in good standing. We will be open to accept donations to help us keep our website, SAMA Store, and archives accessible during this difficult restructuring phase.
Moving forward, your Board of Trustees will be working to create a new strategic plan. Volunteers will be essential to meet the challenges ahead. To this end, we would like to hear from you. Share your thoughts about SAMA’s future here:
The Board of Trustees will host an open meeting at Noon EST on Saturday, January 8, 2022. We will compile comments and questions and have some answers for you then. You will be notified of details and registration in the coming months as well as volunteer needs.
Again, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to thank our dedicated staff for their tireless work to provide quality to our members. I would also like to thank you, our loyal members, sponsors, and donors who have stayed engaged and active during this challenging time. Your presence is what drives this Board of Trustees to ensure this organization we all love can thrive for many years to come!
Libby Hintz, Vice President
Susan Jeffreys, Treasurer
Donna Post, Secretary
Jacki Gran, Executive Board Member
Julie Dilling, Board Member
Kim Kelly, Board Member
Joan Schwartz, Board Member
Luis Alberto Rivera, Advisor