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Kerry McCarthy, right, facilitated a lively and thought-provoking discussion by USITT's Board of Directors during the group's recent meeting in Syracuse, New York.

Photo/Barbara E.R. Lucas



Board of Directors and Others Meet in Syracuse

Sylvia Hillyard Pannell
USITT President

The Board of Directors of USITT held its annual fall meeting, along with some exciting social events, in Syracuse, New York October 11 to 14. Heretofore, the annual fall meetings have taken place on the site of the LDI tradeshow so members could attend events in one trip. This year, however, USITT chose Syracuse instead, to see and hold meetings in our new office space (detailed in October Sightlines) with its spacious, and comfortable conference room that easily accommodated many of the weekend meetings.

The beautifully restored Genesee Grande hotel, a block from the South Crouse Commons office location, provided housing and additional meeting space for Board members and guests. Also meeting were: the Finance Committee, Travis DeCastro, chair; 50th Celebration Steering Committee, Bobbi Owen, chair; Prague Quadrennial Task Force, Bruce Brockman, director; Publications Committee, Ms. Owen, chair; and the 21st Century Task Force, and Bill Byrnes, director. In addition, several members of the Archives Committee were hard at work with Rick Stephens, chair.

The weekend began with an early bird party at the new office space to give members the opportunity to see the staff's new digs. Following the party, many took the opportunity to visit Syracuse Stage, also conveniently located a couple of blocks from the office, where the professional company was performing Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Syracuse University's Department of Drama was presenting Lucky Stiff.

Friday morning began with the Board of Directors retreat conducted by Kerry McCarthy and Helene Bleiberg of McCarthy Arts Consulting (MAC). (For more information on our organizational assessment process, please see my article here in the September 2007 Sightlines). For two hours. in a lively conversational format, board members and MAC representatives deliberated strategic directions and possibilities for USITT to explore.

The Board of Director's input provided invaluable insights to consider as we continue our yearlong organizational analysis and our long-range strategic planning. While many important ideas and initiatives for the future were considered, the need to take a leadership role nationally with other constituencies in the entertainment industry was considered the top priority.

Friday afternoon board members and guests experienced a fascinating tour of J.R. Clancy's nearby facilities, with gracious hosts President Bob Theis, VP Marketing Tom Young, and Special Projects Manager Rod Kaiser.

The Finance Committee met twice to consider the USITT 2008-09 budget. Because the meetings were in Syracuse, accountant Jim Bandoblu and financial consultant George Chrisogonou were able to join the Finance Committee meeting to review the 2006-07 audit and discuss and review the Institute's financial health.

Friday evening held much excitement as USITT hosted a big party to celebrate its new office space in Syracuse's Connective Corridor. The Connective Corridor is a community-wide effort to link the vast array of arts and cultural happenings, businesses, and neighborhoods in the City of Syracuse. We all had a marvelous time meeting and greeting old friends and new neighbors, including many members of the theatre and arts community, and the sponsors and supporters of the Connective Corridor.

The party was held at the fabulous Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology where current exhibit, K'Nex: Building Thrill Rides, provided an exciting backdrop for the event and appealed to the inner techie in us all. As you can see from the pictures, the party was beautifully planned by our staff, well attended, and a great success.

On Saturday, the Board of Directors held its business meeting where recognition was given to Lawrence J. Hill for his service as treasurer, and four staff members were recognized for many years of service to USITT.

Bruce Brockman, director, presented the report of the Prague Quadrennial Task Force with recommendations to the Board of how the 2011 United States entries should be developed and structured.

The board accepted changes to the By-Laws concerning the nominations process, intended to streamline and improve the work of that Committee, as well as updates to the organization's financial controls.

Exciting announcements included an update on the forthcoming USITT Monograph, The Designs of Abe Jacob by Rick Thomas, and the success of the 2007 Prague Quadrennial exhibits. The Board congratulated Mitch Hefter, Jerry Gorrell, and the Standards Committee -- some 10 years after USITT first published it, Underwriters Laboratory is now adopting the USITT Standard for Stage Pin Connectors.

All in all we came away from the weekend with the feeling that USITT is advancing along all fronts. This is a period when we are studying challenges and issues carefully and contemplating new horizons. Our progress is palpable and our future is bright thanks to the good work of the office staff and the many tireless volunteers who make our organization the premiere theatrical design and technology enterprise model for the 21st century.

Members of USITT's Board of Directors gathered at the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology to celebrate their time in Syracuse, New York.

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