Article I – Forum II

Caught up as we are in the everyday effort to sustain and advance Florida Craftsmen’s mission, we sometimes forget the crucial need to regularly communicate with the people who care most about the future of Florida Craftsmen: you, the artists, collectors, members and supporters of our state-wide organization. Be assured that in the midst of the challenges presented by the current economic climate, our core values remain focused on your interests. 

The challenges are plentiful.  Florida Craftsmen depends on several rapidly dwindling revenue streams.

  1. In the last two years, institutional grants have diminished by 70%.
  2. Donations are slightly down, but holding.
  3. Retail sales are down 24%.
  4. Workshops are well attended, but our ’09 goal is still short of our budget.
  5. Thankfully, most of the ArtLoft studios are leased.  However, the studios are served by an aging elevator that is in immediate need of a new motor, and must soon get a full renovation. 

That is difficult and challenging news.  After 57 years, Florida Craftsmen is still Florida’s only state-wide nonprofit organization exclusively dedicated to promoting Florida’s fine crafts.  What we do reflects Florida’s most authentic cultural resources.

We are optimistically moving forward on all fronts.

  1. We are building our Board of Directors with new leadership and involved Board members from around the state.
  2. We are reaching out to re-energize the artists throughout our state to re-engage with Florida Craftsmen, and make our organization stronger and more responsive to your needs.
  3. We have a retail re-branding plan in the making.
  4. An online store is planned to open in September.

All exhibitions beyond September are focused on Florida artists.  This includes a 2011 all-Florida exhibition and conference in collaboration with the Mary Brogan Museum in Tallahassee.

  1. The 2010 workshop schedule is designed to bring new audiences to Florida Craftsmen.
  2. We are counting on our annual fine craft show, CraftArt, November 21 & 22, to kick off the holiday season and end the doldrums of a very slow retail market.
  3. In early October, expect to see a new membership program with added levels of support as well as some exciting new benefits. 

We need your help, and the help of every artist and art supporter.  This is a survival year for all cultural organizations.  Florida Craftsmen is no exception.  We value your participation and need your support.  We will not be able to continue to exist without your help.

Here are four things you can do today to help Florida Craftsmen:

  1. Thank you for renewing your membership this year.  We ask you to consider upgrading to become a Sustaining member with a $1,000 pledge.  A membership application is enclosed for your convenience.
  2. If you are able to make an additional donation, this is the moment to do that.
  3. Forward a copy of this letter and our membership form to other artists and collectors you know, and encourage them to join and lend their voice to the crafts community in our state.
  4. Help us understand how we can better meet your needs.  Please visit floridacraftsmen.net, click on forum, and respond. 

What would you have us do now?  What can you do individually and as a membership to lift the organization?  We trust you to be positive, constructive and offer your best solutions.  We have a lot to talk about, and we look forward to your feedback. 

Thank you for your time and attention to this urgent message.  With your generous, continued support Florida Craftsmen will be here well into the future. 

Best regards,

Maria Emilia
Executive Director

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