Greetings, AIGA Santa Barbara members and friends! I hope the holiday season is treating you well. This annual recap will be a bit different than what I’ve done in the past; it’s my fourth bite at this particular apple, so this will be longer, less rah-rah and more real talk. In 2016, AIGA SB asked tough questions, expanded the map, and ran up the score. Here’s how we did it, and what we’re looking forward to in 2017.
General State of the Chapter
Objectively, AIGA SB had a great year, but not necessarily in the ways we’d planned. Similar to past years, we have a good chunk of cash in the bank, we produced many great events, and we still boast over 70 members. For a relatively small chapter, that’s much to be proud of—and we are!—but it’s important to acknowledge where we still have work to do. Our September 2015 Members Meeting, which focused on answering the core strategic question “Why AIGA?” ironically kicked off a year almost totally dedicated to programming and events, tactical successes that forced larger goals to the back burner. However, this year’s common thread was definitely “collaboration,” since AIGA SB benefitted greatly by teaming up with sponsors, student groups, other local nonprofits, and AIGA chapters near and far.
This was a huge year for events. We had a few bumps—one event was postponed and one canceled—but we still produced thirteen events in 2016. January to June alone was our busiest stretch of programming in chapter history. As in previous years, our events spanned the entire 805 region, and our chapter was represented at the AIGA Leadership Retreat and the AIGA Design Conference. Programming highlights were 1) the return of Marty Neumeier for his 2-day brand workshop, 2) the “April Double-Header Weekend” of “Convert Like Crazy” plus Portfolio Day 2016, 3) our first membership design showcase, and 4) two events solidifying our connection with San Luis Obispo’s creative community and their student AIGA chapter. It’s really too much to condense into one paragraph, so I recommend reading the event recaps linked below if you haven’t already during the year:
- Silverander Communications Studio Tour (Santa Barbara, Jan 28)
- Designers Talk: Twitter Chat (Santa Barbara, Feb 10)
- Flip!2016 Brand Workshop with Marty Neumeier (Santa Barbara, Feb 19-20)
- “The Emotional Side of a Rebrand” with Verdin (San Luis Obispo, Mar 9)
- Whaddya Know? Design Quiz Night (Santa Barbara, Mar 21)
- “Convert Like Crazy” with Julia Sevin & Lianna Patch (Santa Barbara, Apr 15)
- Portfolio Day 2016 at Brooks Institute (Ventura, Apr 16)
- “The Designer Behind the Design” Showcase (Santa Barbara, May 20)
- Indigo Dip-Dye Workshop with Joya Groves (Goleta, Jun 25)
- “Design Disruptors” Film Screening (Santa Barbara, Sep 29)
- “Cultivating a Creative Culture” with iii Design (San Luis Obispo, Oct 6)
- “What Does It Take?” The Evolution of Santa Cruz Island: An Illustrated History (Santa Barbara, Dec 7)
In addition to those events, we held our regular monthly board meetings—including a tech workshop in January, our annual Board Retreat in August, and our annual Open Board Meeting in November.
Collaboration, Membership, and Sponsorship
AIGA SB teamed up frequently with other groups and organizations this year. First and foremost, thanks to our friends on staff at Brooks Institute, longtime chapter sponsor and Portfolio Day host. As you all may know, Brooks sadly closed in October, a huge loss for the local creative community. Thankfully, our remaining chapter sponsors V3, Santa Barbara Signs, Mark Oliver, Inc., and Oniracom went above and beyond to help make things happen this year, and we very much appreciate their continued support. Other fruitful collaborations included the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara (for our membership design showcase) and StartupSB (for Convert Like Crazy). In 2017, AIGA SB will be partnering with StartupSB-affiliated co-working space The Sandbox for meetings and events. Finally, we are now formally affiliated with the Cal Poly SLO student chapter.
Our chapter’s membership holds steady in the 65-75 range (we are currently at 71). As with all AIGA chapters, we saw a drop in late summer from the long-overdue switch to new membership database software, but it ticked up again within a month or two. Regarding membership as a whole, most of our members reside in Santa Barbara County, but significant minorities are in San Luis Obispo and Ventura. About half our membership is actively participating in events, but our May membership design showcase was a hit, so we intend to offer more opportunities for AIGA SB members to present their creativity.
Challenges for Next Year
Our all-events-all-the-time approach this year accomplished a lot, but unfortunately it also meant other things got neglected. The AIGA SB board feels that we must better convey, as often and loudly as possible, the value of joining, sponsoring, or volunteering for AIGA SB. In my experience, the value of AIGA returns the effort I’ve put into it, but I realize that’s not always true for everyone who joins. So to our members and sponsors I say again: thank you for your support of, and commitment to AIGA SB! Our task is to represent you to the wider creative community and society as a whole, and we couldn’t do what we do without you. In 2017 and beyond we will solicit your opinions (from simple surveys to all-hands-on-deck community meetings) about what we can do to better represent you, what you value about your membership, and how we can reflect that with our event programming and creative initiatives.
2017 will be big for the national AIGA, but it will especially be special for AIGA SB: our chapter turns 10 years old in October, and we already have at least two banner events on tap (including the return of Marty Neumeier for Flip!2017 in February), but our main goal is to balance great event programming with sustainable chapter practices—for membership, sponsorship, and volunteering. We want AIGA SB to tackle the next 10 years head-on. Want to be a part of that? We have open board positions for interested volunteers.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: most of my accomplishments these days are cumulative. As AIGA SB president they’ve been collaborative as well. Thanks to the AIGA SB 2016 volunteer board of directors for helping me get it all done this year and for allowing me a provisional third year in the big chair to finish what we started. Take a bow Patty Devlin-Driskel, Marianne Cothern, Nicki Gauthier, Tom Hinkle, David Cowan, Jennie Jacobs, Bill Kienzel, Cassi Lindberg, Gen Matsui & Rachell Newburn. Bill and Cassi had to step down mid-year, but they definitely made their mark. Tom and Jennie are also leaving the board (after their second tour with us!) but we will welcome new Membership Director Amaranthe Wolff and returning Education Director Anna Lafferty. See y’all next year.