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Organization, Governance and Diversity

The organization of the American Print Alliance as a consortium of artists' groups requires that our board of directors be composed of representatives from those groups (plus its executive/artistic director), and that each nominated representative be an officer in his/her group. This structure was chosen to insure that our focus and activities would always be determined directly by artists who represent and are responsible to other artists, rather than typical civic organization board members who, although able to bring considerable funding to an organization, may divert energy to tangential projects or fail to understand artists' priorities. All our board members are aware of the extra burden they share in representing every artist in their groups as well as their responsibility as contemporary artists — particularly within the printmaking tradition of political and social commentary. Thus board discussions have included suggestions for journal articles that deal with gender, racial and ethnic identity issues, themes for exhibitions, and ways to insure minority involvement. We have been quite successful in finding appropriate writers, setting cross-cultural exhibit themes and encouraging exhibit submissions from artists as diverse as French québécois and native Hawai'ian, rural and urban, old and young.

Our board representatives are volunteers both to the Alliance and to their councils. Therefore, they are responsible to both organizations for serious reflection upon goals and programs to achieve those goals, and for communications between the groups and the Alliance; we do not ask them to take additional time away from their creative activities as artists. Our staff (the director) is responsible for advising the board on the financial requirements and feasibility of all projects and for carrying out those chosen as the highest priorities by the board. This has been effective, with other volunteers enlisted for particular projects depending upon where the work needs to be done (e.g., building crates for travelling exhibitions, presenting demonstrations, conducting research).

The very nature of prints on paper which makes them so easily transported (and allows them to be fairly well represented by slides and photographs) means that most of the Alliance's contact with artists is by mail, computer and telephone. We therefore have not had any problems including people with disabilities, our office is accessible on the ground floor and every exhibition venue is required to be fully accessible.

All of our programs emphasize diversity within artistic expression and we particularly highlight ethnic and cultural diversity. We try to reach traditionally underserved audiences by selecting many venues in smaller cities and towns, holding events at community arts centers and schools that are less intimidating than huge white-marble museums, and advertising exhibitions and programs in non-standard papers like Creative Loafing. We are especially concerned with outreach to two special groups: students and people with disabilities (including some seniors). Therefore we have chosen to present our Printmaking Dialogue Days on college campuses and we have assured that all of our activities are available to people with disabilities in two ways. First, by taking advantage of the ease of transporting and imaging prints, e.g. entries to our exhibits are submitted by mail, our journal arrives directly by mail to people's homes, and our Internet site is accessible on home computers; and secondly, by presenting all of our direct-contact activities (exhibits, conferences, Print & Paper Fairs) in accessible locations at colleges, museums and community centers. In addition, we participate in the Library of Congress program which provides free Braille copies and recorded readings of our publications and we have added handicapped accessibility information to the new edition of our Guide to Print Workshops.

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