Vision Statement and Working Plan of the new President
2011 – 2015
I am honoured and privileged to be in the position where I take on the elected role of the President during the Congress in Norway. I am especially comfortable that my new position begins in the Scandinavian family. I am very much at home here in Tromsø. Of course, I know I am also among my friends in theatre from all over the world.
Through my work as executive director of Amateur Theatre Association in Finland I have been associated with AITA/IATA since the beginning of 1990 when I was a representative for NARA – Nordiskt Amatörteaterråd (Nordic Amateur Theatre Council) – later NEATA – North-European Amateur Theatre Alliance. Also I have been very actively and directly involved in the work since 2003, first as Vice-President and more recently as President-elect. During my time on the Council, I have served with Presidents Leo Tromp and Paddy O’Dwyer, and with each member of the current Council. This is very important for me in my role as President because I am very aware of the expertise and commitment of each member of the Council and also I consider myself fortunate to have the support of such a good Council. I know we will work well together for the good of the organisation. I have a great expectation that my Presidency will be collaborative and co-operative in support of this great organisation.
Dear friends, it is my duty to inform you of my priorities, vision and working plan for the next four years, especially up to 2013.
Vision Council, Regions and National Centres
In order to be a really worldwide organisation for the amateur theatre movement we need operational activities from all of us, I hope you can agree with me that AITA/IATA is only as good as its members can make it!
I know that the Executive Board and Council will be effective in their efforts to produce the desired results. The Regional Committees also have a vital role in order to help intensify our cooperation and to get more members into our Association.
The role of Councillor will be sharpened: the contact between the Councillor, his or her Region, and AITA/IATA is crucial. It is not only a role of representation but each Councillor has a real responsibility to spread information and to recruit new members. One of the first tasks will be to plan the continuous strategy of how we recruit new members. I hope we will get assistance in this work from AITA/IATA ambassadors, which we will propose are nominated from time to time.
Also, we must sharpen the roles of Regional committees as there has to be a live connection from the AITA/IATA Secretariat to the Regional secretariats around the world. Communication is always in the spotlight: perhaps some members of the Board of Regional Committees could regularly use the website (see proposal of an online network below) just to exchange news and information. I would also like to encourage Regional Committees to keep alive regular contact to the National Centres in their respective Regions and for the National Centres to keep contact with their Associates in their own countries. More than offices we need people; we need people who are willing to keep in contact with modern aims and enthusiasms, who will talk to people and who will share the information and the enthusiasm.
We have a wonderful brand and a positive ethos and we are proud of AITA/IATA, which involves people of all ages and which is manifested in our new website.
Our organisation should be represented on all continents. Let us try to capitalise on this brand and make it more visible.
Working Plan – Council and National Centres
- A strategy will be developed and begin to be implemented by end 2011/early 2012 towards improving communication between Regional Representatives, Regional Committees and National Centres. These plans will have targets and time schedules and will also include strategies towards recruiting new members, affiliates and Associates. This strategy statement will be produced by early 2012
- I will ensure that Executive Board meetings and Council meetings will rotate between Regions during my Presidency
- As President, I will make myself and/or other officers of the Council available to Regions, especially where my/our presence will help Regional or National activities to be presented to high officials in culture or education authorities
Vision – Communication
The previous Council began the process of what is called a SWOT analysis, a tool to look at the strengths, possibilities and weaknesses of the Association and also the threats to the organisation, to see our situation as it is now. Of course, the focus in our working agenda will be on dealing with the weaknesses and the threats in order to make things better. I look on those weaknesses and on those threats, as challenges! Together-ness is now so important and if together we make a commitment to solve these problems we will succeed. I believe that if there is a mutual will or SISU – the Finnish special word for courage or stamina or perseverance – there is a way! In the analysis by Council, it was still seen that our mission is to promote understanding and education through theatre. But Council also said that it is possible to broaden our mission. Theatre is a social art form, which brings people together and gives us a better quality of life. Therefore I would like to add welfare of the people to our mission because our movement gives us the tools to analyse life and it involves people of all ages and backgrounds: it is inclusive, not elitist.
I believe that this development must be underpinned by good communication. The new Vice-president will be given the challenge of assisting the President in communication and networking.
AITA/IATA will use modern technology to improve networking - to exchange views and ideas.
The creation of a section of the website will offer a platform of exchange between members who have paid their fees, Councils and EB members. This private space will be built as an online network accessible with a password and a membership number validated annually. It is important that the members who contribute effectively to finance the organisation will receive privileged information. Associates paying their annual subscription will have access to information about the activities in a similar way. The public access webpage will be oriented to be an effective tool for public relations.
Communication – Working Plan
- The website will be enhanced; firstly, with the provision of a discussion forum for members by the end 2011 or sooner if possible. Artistic development will be the major focus of the discussion to help us towards achieving higher artistic levels in making theatre. Our Association will offer the possibility to ask practical and philosophical questions. It is still open as to who will be the professionals and experienced amateurs who will lead the discussions and reflections
- With the help of Regional committees, we will publish a list of workshop leaders for the theatre groups to evaluate and choose from. Contacts should be made between the groups and workshop leaders directly.
- We will have an online course for theatre producers on the internet. The target is that the pilot course will be held in spring 2012. Later we wish to translate it into all official languages.
- We will search for suitable partners to do some research work in the field of AITA/IATA, perhaps to start with basic statistics.
- The Council will investigate the possibility of selecting a co-ordinator with the appropriate technological expertise for internet communication and development to assist us in this regard, particularly with reference to the possibilities of the social media (building upon the models of current social networks and other innovations).
Vision – Means
The world around us is developing at an accelerating tempo and this too has implications for AITA/IATA. As a small organisation, we are more easily influenced and shaken by the impact of fast-paced change. The amount of money allocated to cultural activities is usually one of the first ones to be cut by governments and other central bodies when countries are in the midst of tough times. Also, the privileged position in which we in AITA/IATA have been for many years – of having extra solidarity support from Nordic countries – is changing and we are more and more on our own, depending on our own resources.
One of my first tasks as a new President is to understand fully the basics of our economic situation even when we are talking about very small amounts of money. The good news is that the balance sheet is strong, all the assets are liquid and we have no debts. Profit and loss are in balance. One of the main reasons for this was the quick response to cut our secretarial services by 50% when we lost some of the extra grants. But, we can continue to use our Solidarity Fund and Culture and Education Fund for our members’ benefit even though not as generously as before.
But now we are in a ‘back against the wall’ situation for the future because our financial stability is based mainly on the payment of membership fees. It is vitally important that all members understand their obligation in this matter. All members have to carry this responsibility and we all have to do our utmost to increase the number of members.
Working Plan – Finance/Secretariat
- The HDI system of fees will be reviewed
- The financial arrangements and other aspects of the Secretariat will be reviewed in September 2011
- Proposals regarding membership and other fees will be presented to Congress and General Assembly in Monaco, 2013
- The Cultural and Education fund will be restructured to ensure spending of Euro 3,000 each year to 2013
- The nature and application of the Solidarity Fund will be revisited by the end of 2011
- The Solidarity Fund will be reinstated in a more meaningful way also keeping mind that financing this Fund is based on the Norwegian grant.
- Outside subsidies will be sought for projects (for example in relation to translation into the three official languages)
Our financial situation and our development at a time where new technologies open up a world of opportunities for us, immediately challenges us to renew our thinking. We have already made some adjustments to the functioning of the secretariat but we must consider how to rearrange our secretarial services more efficiently. We need to make the relationship between the Secretariat and members more pro-active: to make it faster in action and more responsive to the demands of today’s world.
In conclusion colleagues, I also bring to your attention the document on Artistic development contained in your Congress documents, which I hope will assist in our deliberations following our business meeting. This incorporates my thinking in this area of importance. Artistic development is the essential content in our movement and the main reason for me to stand here. While I have outlined my vision and work priorities, it will be necessary for me to continue to direct the day-today priorities of the organisation such as preparation for the next Congress (2013); continued liaison with other international bodies of common interest; and to respond to new challenges that will undoubtedly arise over time.
Finally colleagues, I have set myself the tasks of careful listening of meeting you during this Congress and Festival. Please approach me directly with your ideas and advice: your views and proposals to me will be welcome and will receive careful attention.
I look forward to the outcome of our deliberations on the important topics at Congress and to the results and the ideas that emerge from these discussions.
I wish to express my deepest gratitude to the President, Mr. Paddy O’Dwyer, for allowing me to work so closely with him and to the Council for giving me all their educational advice and support to prepare me for the future challenges. Of course, I would also like to thank our Administrator, Ene Jurna for her understanding in a changed work situation and for her good work in preparation for this Congress.
With confidence I will continue to work for the good of our organisation, AITA/IATA. With you all by my side and with your support I will work with diligence and commitment.