Two Days in Las Vegas

Saturday, January 10th 2009


Greetings from sunny Florida where we are several days into the New Year, and back from the ATOS Mid Year meetings that were held in Las Vegas, NV.

First, a word about why we met in Las Vegas. For two consecutive Mid-Year meetings, we met in Chicago. Now, this was convenient to my then-hockey schedule, plus, with Board and staff living in the Midwest, it was relatively convenient and a bit less expensive. But, oh those Chicago winters! Once your President was no longer encumbered by those silly hockey games, it was time to change location for our annual Winter meetings.

We chose Las Vegas for two reasons: 1.) it is far enough south to ensure decent weather, and; 2.) it is home to Phil Maloof who has one of the most amazing collections of theatre pipe organs anywhere in the world. We had the opportunity to enjoy Phil’s hospitality on Saturday evening, after our all-day Board meeting and just before the Fund Raising Committee had its meeting on Sunday.

Highlighting some of the work accomplished by the Board and staff, we received a full report from Paul VanderMolen on the state of ATOS’ finances, and although our treasury has taken a “whack” just like so much of the economy, some good fortune, prudent decision-making, and timely shifts of dollars has minimized some of the losses. We got hit, but it could have been so much worse. Our Treasurer continues to keep a watchful eye on every dollar, and we are working hard to be mindful of spending vs. income. There will be a full report published in Theatre Organ in the minutes of the meeting.

To that end, our first effort in Fund Raising, the first Annual Drive, has been a wonderful success. ATOS is fortunate to have two professionals in the fund-raising field acting as advisors and helping us proceed properly in this new arena. In terms of this type of annual fund-raising, Nancy Burton, formerly of Purdue University, indicates that our response rate of over 7% of those contacted, and our tally of more than $20,000 is a smashing success for Year One. Our heartfelt thanks to those who participated by donating to ATOS. This will be an annual effort, and knowing there are many in our midst who share our commitment and are willing to act by making donations is most gratifying, indeed.

ATOS is far along in its planning for the third annual Summer Youth Camp, and the second annual Adult Getaway. Martin Ellis now joins the Youth Camp staff, and this year’s event will be held in Phoenix, centered on the spectacular installation at the Adrian Phillips residence. The Adult Getaway will be staged in Berkeley, CA with all those wonderful Bay Area organs, and the lure of San Francisco very close by.

We welcome a new addition to the officers for ATOS, and in doing so, welcome an officer! Having changed the President’s position to paid staff, and changing the terminology for the leadership of ATOS, former Vice President Craig Peterson is now the Chairman. That left the Vice Chairman’s position open. No longer. The officer now in the office is Col. Mike Hartley, U.S. Army (retired), and he brings a wealth of financial, strategic planning, and theatre organ experience to the position. We are thrilled that Mike answered the call to first help us on the Fund Raising Committee, and then present himself for the office of Vice Chairman. He will be a great asset to ATOS, and could be a budding star! He is taking lessons from the legendary John Ferguson.

A question for you: How would you like to click on the computer, go to the ATOS site, and with another quick click, have your computer act like a radio station playing nothing but theatre organ music? Some of you have discovered the internet programs of Steve Ashley, Steve Worthington, and others. ATOS will soon be joining forces to create a channel on the internet that will be streaming theatre pipe organ music 24/7 for your listening enjoyment. This is a most exciting venture indeed.

You have been hearing about Strategic Planning, and perhaps been wondering what happened to that survey that was presented to the membership last year. The survey results are in, and there will be a full report. The results are an indication that we all might need to re-think some of our basic ideas about ATOS and its relationship with its local chapters. It was an enlightening exercise, and the leadership MUST explore the recommendations coming forth from the membership. Stay tuned for more….some of it potentially stunning….as we begin to act on the solid information gleaned from the survey. By the way, not unlike the fund raising response to the letter announcing the Annual Drive, we had more than 17% response to the survey, an astronomical figure in terms of this kind of survey. The membership responded. The membership is concerned. The membership made recommendations. And the Board is taking heed.

Finally, so you know and can make your long-range plans, ATOS Conventions are pretty well set four years out. This is great news. After Cleveland this summer, Birmingham and the Alabama chapter is hosting a regional this Fall; 2010 will find us in Seattle; 2011 will bring us to Eastern Massachusetts, and headquartered in Providence, RI; 2012 will bring us back to Southern California; and, 2013 is in the works with one grand location under consideration. Wonderful to know our upcoming conventions are set and in good hands with good partners at the local chapter level. Thanks to Mike Kinerk and his efforts as the Convention Planning Coordinator.

These are just a few of the many items that ATOS was dealing with during the Mid Year Meeting. If you are curious, we started on Friday evening at 4:30 with a meeting involving Mike Kinerk, Doug Powers, Craig Peterson and yours truly to discuss the specifics on the upcoming WRTOS/Cleveland convention. That was followed by a 6 pm meeting of the Executive Committee. Saturday morning at 8:45, we commenced the proceedings and worked pretty much straight though (save 45-minutes for lunch) until about 5:45 pm. The agenda covered more than 20 points. Saturday night after dinner it was off to Phil Maloof’s. Sunday morning at 11, we convened the first gathering of the Fund Raising Committee and discussed business until 2 pm. In addition to the committee, a half-dozen Board and staff were on hand to witness this new group in action. Many were off and running home after that. A few stayed on to enjoy Las Vegas (on their own nickel…there are stringent rules about what and what not gets reimbursed), and take in the shows, and see if their luck might help restore what the economy hath taken away!

Finally, you MUST check out the website and the material covering the Cleveland convention. When you click on “Venues,” and see all those glorious theatres, you will be amazed. If that does not get you all “goose-pimply” and fired up about coming to Cleveland for the convention, I suggest you call 9-1-1, get the ambulance there and see if you have a pulse!

It is going to be a GREAT convention!!

We shall visit in this forum again soon!!

Ken Double