And Now That The Convention Is Over…
By Brian Pitman, September 2006
So that was our 2006 Annual Convention. Flash Mob is now a very fond memory instead of an ambitious dream, and the entire trip to Cedar Rapids was very satisfying in many ways. I want to begin as I customarily do after our convention has passed by thanking all of those who worked very hard to make it happen. All of our speakers, team leaders, workers, officers, and Board members did an awesome job to bring a crazy idea to fruition, and we had enormous attendance for the convention. Huge thanks to all of you who took part in this experience, because it never would have happened without you.
I have a treat for those of you who didn’t make it to the convention this year, or for those of you who want to re-live the Flash Mob experience. I videotaped the first two Flash Mob presentations (one on stemware and one on Northwood vases), and they are now online for you to watch in the privacy of your own home (if you have a high speed internet connection.) Visit www.carnivalglass.org/video to watch these two videos to see what amazing presentations the Nielsens and the Clarks put together for our attendees.
A convention is kind of a weird part of carnival glass associations, when you think about it for more than two seconds. We spend a lot of time and effort to make them happen, we devote a large portion of our writing in the newsletter (not to mention pictures and such) we update our website with all of the information and pictures, and it is a very big focus of the Board of Directors and Officers for ICGA throughout the year. Furthermore, a lot of the Association’s financial resources each year are tied to the convention. But with all of those resources and all of that time devoted to making it happen each year, less than 20% of our membership attends our annual convention. So why do we do it?
There are many reasons for the convention. One of the first things I have to tell you is that there are some things we lose money on each year (like The Pump you are reading, now with more color! But more on that in a moment.) We do the best we can to keep expenses down on those items, but Carl Booker and I firmly believe that we cannot cut the quality of the Pump for any savings (and we have seen a lot of that in the carnival world in the past decade). We also don’t feel it is wise to raise our annual dues higher and higher each year (raising them $5 a year ago was the first dues’ increase in a long time, and I hope it will also be our last for a verrrrrry long time).
The convention, however, is something on which we make a modest profit. This profit helps us make up for any shortfalls and also helps us give the members new benefits or features (like the color you will see popping up more often in the Pump). Our convention helps us propel our Association further each year, enables us to grow in member benefits, and also provides us with so many other things. One of the first things carnival collectors wanted to do when they first started organizing over 40 years ago was to get together and talk carnival, meet each other, and provide educational offerings for those who wanted to learn. A convention was their idea in making it all happen.
Things have changed in the past 40 years. Now you can meet up “virtually” online to chat, discuss carnival glass and what was happening in the lives of everyone. You can also “instantly” send pictures and video to others of carnival (much like we are doing online with the videos of past ICGA seminars). You can email education, you can buy and sell online, and you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home (or office, if you are one of those who seem busy every day, but you are really taking care of your needs for carnival glass).
But c’mon, how real is that? Can you hold the glass online? Can you study the pattern, the intricacies of the mold work, the smooth or rough edges of the glass? Nope, you sure can’t. There is also something about actually being there, to ask questions and hear answers, to know those people as you talk to them. Now I realize there are some in the Association who think being together is overrated, and they are entitled to that opinion (although I have to say I wouldn’t want one of them at my cocktail parties, because they would be blown away by how much fun you can have with other people in one room).
Our conventions are very important to the Association, and they are an integral part of the ICGA member experience. There are many reasons why you may not be able to attend, and that is all fine. One day, though, you should check out what it is you are missing. Sure, the hotel rooms cost money (and not cheap money like 40 years ago). The food isn’t ever super cheap (although our chocolate fountain and pizzas in the hospitality room this year may have made you forget about spending money on any food). The hotels are never perfect (I have stayed in hotel rooms that were $50 a night and hotel rooms that were $500 a night, and neither was absolutely perfect). The point of the convention, however, is that we are together. That’s where the fun, the friendship, and the education all begin.
Okay, I want to close this President’s Message with some actions we have taken as a Board to enhance your experience and to make ICGA a better association. The first is the color in the Pump. We have agreed to add color to the Pump in a very discreet way. Carl Booker and I have the exact same aesthetic taste when it comes to color: we want color to be for pictures, and only pictures. You won’t ever open the Pump and see color headlines, text, and cartoons (well, not while Carl and I are around anyway.) Color done professionally costs good money, and we want it to go towards pictures of people and glass.
Another thing the Board has decided is to name our special appreciation award the Frank Fenton Memorial Award. We wanted to honor Frank for being one of the pivotal figures in the history of carnival glass collecting, and he was a true friend to ICGA since its beginnings. This award isn’t given out every year, but it is one that will remind us of Frank for many years to come whenever we honor someone with it.
Finally, we are working to sign the contracts for our next two conventions. The contract for 2007 isn’t signed yet, and so I can’t announce the location. Check on our website at www.internationalcarnivalglass.com for the latest, and we will have all the information for it in the December issue of the Pump.