Board Minutes 5-18-2015

Tapestry Folkdance Center
Board Meeting – May 18, 2015


  • Gordon Olsen
  • Marc Scovill
  • Claudia Graebel Beermann
  • Mary Cummings, (Executive Director)
  • Jeanne Novak
  • Carole Wilson
  • Ed Stern
  • Todd Petersen
  • Barbara Beltrand
  • David Kirchner
  • Tuvia Abramson


  • Madhu Bangalore

1. Youth concerns:
Guests Hannah Johlas, Akilah Sanders-Reed, Richard Barnes, Haleigh Duncan joined the Board to voice concerns about behaviors observed during dances that make younger dancers uncomfortable. The four delivered a letter outlining their concerns as well as suggestions how we can improve the dances for all.

Observed offensive reoccurring behaviors include:

  • Leading aggressively
  • Flourishes
  • Violating personal space boundaries
  • Touching the dance partner in a manner that is not typical in dancing
  • Repeated requests to dance when turned down before
  • Unrequested teaching

These behaviors cause, at a minimum, mild distress and possibly cause dancers to leave the dance and never return. Their recommendations include

  • Ask before adding a flourish
  • Ask before doing more that the basic dance position requires
  • Apologize as a dancer if you missed a hand and touched the body in other than the “appropriate” position. For example, missed the hand during a courtesy turn and touched a waist or side of the body.

Additional concerns include:

  • Code of conduct/dance tips are not readily available or read aloud by the caller, house manager or other.
  • Additional discussion ensued about:

    • Communicate dance etiquette information, appropriate behaviors (including gentle leading, asking before giving advice) and dance positions/steps regularly and with kind firmness.
    • Increase the number of callers who will give dance etiquette tips during the lesson that precedes the dance.
    • Determine how we can create feedback systems to make it easier and safer to provide feedback, voice concerns and point out inappropriate behavior.

    David will try to organize a meeting between regular callers and this group to engage in a conversation how callers can adopt some of the dance norms created by Tapestry as well as the suggestions made by this group in their letter.

    Additional discussion ensued about others who could communicate dance norms and serve as a contact for dancers who have concerns/complaints as well as be generally available throughout the dance. Those individuals need to have the skills to deal with potentially emotional conversations. (“Ombudsman” concept)

    The desire is for our dance community to become more self-regulating; this can happen by fine-tuning and promoting communication of acceptable behaviors.

    The Board will continue the discussion and work towards implementing suggestions, structures and a framework for communication.

    2. Minutes: April minutes were approved as amended.

    3. Financial Report:
    Mary reviewed the current balance statement. One change from previous statements is the breakout of sustaining members from memberships (lines 7&8)

    Proceeds from the Bizarre Bazar are going to the building improvement campaign. Proceeds were over $400; the amount was generously rounded up to $500 by the organizer of the bazar, Laura Schneck.

    Bricks, tar and air campaign: As of 4pm today, we have reached the goal for the campaign and will receive the matching grant. This funding is restricted for building improvements as indicated in the solicitation.

    The Board passed a motion to immediately change the areas covered under our Bricks, Tar and Air campaign to include the Minnehaha street project. The executive director will reach out to those who have already made restricted contributions to ensure that each donor agrees to the change in scope of the restriction.

    Minnehaha street improvement assessments:
    If we pay in a lump sum by December 2016, the Minnehaha assessment will be $38,000. We can also pay off one, two or all of our properties (building and two parking lots). If we don’t pay off any of them, financing the full assessment, the total amount we pay will nearly double over the twenty-year payback time established by the City.

    Further discussion of future fundraising focus needs to take place in the coming months. Our desire is to raise enough funds to be able to pay the Minnehaha street improvements in one lump sum.

    Of concern is the impact the Minnehaha street project may have on our revenues if dancers cannot easily reach our building and will refrain from coming to dances.

    4. Executive Director’s report:
    Martha Megarry is leaving Tapestry in late July. She has been a true asset and was instrumental in implementing Tapestry’s improved website. We will miss her greatly and wish her much success in her future career.

    Mary had a long conversation with Sue Gens from the Minnesota Arts Board to review Tapestry’s desired accessibility improvements. The Accessibility Task Force is working on this project. Sue gave following feedback:

    • The State Arts Board considers us a participatory organization. This means there are higher expectations to be very welcoming and accommodating. Higher than a theater company, for example.
    • We exist to have people participate in dance activity. The State Arts Board expects that we offer accessibility/accommodations training for house managers, admissions and Board Members.
    • The Board passed a motion to devote dollars in our budget for accessibility training for the board during a board meeting. In addition, Board Members have to make the commitment to attend training provided for Tapestry volunteers (House Managers, Admissions).
    • Ed suggested to recruit a group of people who can receive training to deal with accessibility topics and accommodation requests. Further discussion is needed.

    5. Accessibility Task Force:
    The task force has been working on practices to make Tapestry welcoming to anyone. Some requests may be difficult to accommodate, for example, service dogs. The policy will include a request to contact Tapestry ahead of time with an accommodations request. If this is not possible, we will try to do what we can to provide accommodations as the request is made.

    6. Nominating Committee:
    The committee has identified 3 dancers who are considering joining the Board. One of the prospective new board members has already submitted an application. The deadline for Board applications was yesterday. The Board passed a motion to extend the deadline by 2 weeks. Board members are encouraged to contact other possible board candidates. All other Board members, except Gordon and Tuvia, are planning to continue to serve on the Board.

    7. Committees at Tapestry (Ed)

    The draft document on committee structure as well as procedures was distributed for editing.
    Ed will try to organize a meeting to start the discussion. Currently there is not a deadline for completion.

    8. Responsibility for Board Behavior (Marc)
    Marc reviewed general guidelines for Board Member behavior during meetings:

    • Disrespect, interruptions, either verbally or through gestures is detrimental to our discussions and Board work.
    • All Board members have responsibility and are empowered to call out inappropriate comments or gestures.

    Meeting adjourned.
    Next meeting: June 15, 7:30pm.

    Posted in Board Meeting Minutes
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