Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
Minutes of Past Meetings


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November 16, 1988


[DHE, 2008: This was a special BHCA meeting, facilitated by Ed Garcia with a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.  Today we might call this “visioning.”]


Present: Helen Bechdel (Vice-President), Joan Blasko (Treasurer), Kevin and Carol Burke, Jim and Gay Dunne, Rob Fisher and True Fisher (President), Rob Gannon, Joyce Hagen (Arts Coordinator), Anne Jacobs, Melady Kehm, Judith Schardt, Peter Schneeman (Secretary), and Joe Vasey.


1. True Fisher, President, introduced Ed Garcia, the "facilitator" for the evening, who conducted a "mini-retreat" during which we "took the pulse" of the organization--a look at where we have been, where we are now, and where we want to go from here. As everyone who was there will well remember, it was an intense session, so that what follows here can only be a very schematic reconstruction of the evening.


2. Ed Garcia outlined the evening's "program":

7:00  - 7:30 Prouds and sorries

7:30  - 8:00 Similarities and differences

8:00  - 8:30 Issues (problems)

8:30  - 8:45; 8:45 - 9:00 Key problems

9:30  - 10:00 Causes/Solutions

10:00 - 10:30 Action plan

10:30 – 10:45 Commitments


3. A long list of things we were proud about, and things we regretted was generated, as follows:




­Social outlet

Lack of community reception

Promotion of arts

“Native” vs “new”

Not overextending

Artsy newcomers/elitist image

Positive energy

Lack of recognition by Council

Still here

Not more experimental ventures


Not enough money or members


Programs not grown

Gives town class

Lack of energy, burn out

Pride in the group

Historic restoration [? i.e. insufficient effect on?]

Programs maintained

Mailing list [i.e. not as complete as desired?]

Hiring of staff

Not enough new members

Public awareness

Image problem

No formal rules

We are elistist

Recognition more general

Need new projects and new people

Concert series

Missing “historical” aspect

In being  a member

Didn’t know about BHCA for 2 years

In having done things well

Publicity [not adequate?]

That we’re ready to add spark

Event awareness not sufficient

In doing something for community

More State College people not involved

The Gallery

Involvement with other groups weak

Grant awards

Lack of definition and purpose

Victorian Christmas


BHCA made town proud


“Doing a great job”


Quality events for the size of the organization


Having this retreat



4. A lively discussion of this obviously random and spontaneous and fairly redundant list followed, in order to zero in on its implications and to winnow out the two problems that seemed most important to most members, which proved to be: (1) Burnout, and (2) Lack of respect and cooperation from the local "power structure."


5. These two "key problems" were then discussed.



Another spontaneous list of the causes of burnout was generated:

Too much to do                        Other organizations

Low membership                        Professional obligations

Length of service                     Lack of interest

Deja vu                               Angst

Spread too thin                       Lack of impact

Nature of obligations                 Minimal feedback

Lack of apparent change               Taking on more than can do

Limited $ resources                   Unreasonable ideas

Lack of clear goals                   Doing some jobs alone

No new leaders                        Minimal reinforcement

Overwhelmed by what

  should/could be done


This list too was then boiled down to five primary causes of burnout:

1. Low membership

2. Lack of money

3. Other commitments

4. Too much to do

5. No new leaders

Solutions were then suggested:

Increase the visibility of the organization (re 1 & 2)

Expand the membership (re 1, 2, 4 & 5)

Mount a fundraising drive (patrons) (re 2)

Raise dues (re 2)

Quit other organizations (re 3 & 4)

Work harder (requires commitment from everyone) (re 4 & 5)

Do fewer events (re 2 & 4)

Hire full-time staff (re 4)

Co-sponsor events (re 1, 2 & 4)

Limit goals; change the nature of the organization (re 1- 5)

Retire (re 3 & 4)

Rotate officers (re 5)

Write more grants (re 2)



Problems here were attributed to (in estimated order of importance):

1. Different values, dissimilar interests, cliquishness, nastiness, punishment, resentment;

2. Lack of communication, basic misunderstanding;

3. Turf struggle, perception of BHCA as a threat, fear of loss of power, resentment of BHCA's accomplishments;

4. "History" and fear of change.


Solutions to these problems were then suggested:


Generate a positive image for BHCA

"Infiltrate" other organizations

Run for office

Designate a PR person

Bring in members from "their" organizations

Accept and respect differences

Do our own thing well


In the course of this discussion it was pointed out that the issue may be less significant than it might seem, since a considerable amount of the friction in the past has been over various aspects of development of Talleyrand Park, and that the major items of contention in that regard seem to have been resolved.


Nevertheless, Rob Fisher, Rob Gannon and Anne Jacobs will meet to discuss ways to improve communications with other groups in town.


6.  An ACTION PLAN and COMMITMENTS were developed

     It was agreed that we need 5 to 15 new working members, and in order to achieve this, the following methods were suggested:

Personal recruitment/nominations

“Raid” other groups

Clarify BHCA’s image

Mount a PR campaign

Attract new people to town

True Fisher agreed to find out, as far as possible, why different people have dropped out of BHCA after showing some initial interest.

Joe Vasey agreed to “coordinate short bios” [?]

The Arts Coordinator will be responsible for keeping lists of persons who attend BHCA events, with an eye toward “recruitment.”

Anne Jacobs will be going through voter registration lists to look for potential candidates for school board or Council positions, and will also look for potential BHCA members [somehow].


It was also suggested that "key contacts" should be designated, i.e. persons who will be responsible for inviting particular individuals to come to a meeting, explaining to them ahead of time what will be going on, and in general making them feel comfortable in the context of the meetings, where a lot of "shorthand" conversation can go on -- clear enough to those of us who have been around a while, but not so to newcomers.


Peter Schneeman and Melady Kehm will be responsible for keeping tabs on these various aspects of recruitment, to see if they are going forward. Melady will also provide a regular (every meeting or every other meeting) short review of how we've been doing in regard to our needs assessment list, picking each time a special point or two for discussion.


Regarding LACK OF ADEQUATE FINANCIAL RESOURCES, the following reasons were cited:


Lack of imagination in fund-raising campaign

Lack of visibility

Too few paying members

Our current sources of income are:

Ad hoc fundraisers (it seemed generally agreed that we stick to this type -- i.e, imaginative, interesting ones that are satisfying to be involved with).

Art gallery (commissions and grant)

Brass plaques (Rob Gannon)


Concert donations



Regarding memberships, it was agreed that a solicitation letter should go out, to be drafted and edited by the Dunnes and Peter Schneeman, Jim Dunne and Melady Kehm are responsible for concert donations, and the Arts Coordinator is responsible for writing grant proposals (overseen by the Arts Coordinator Committee).


7. Ed Garcia was thanked and generously applauded for the energy and efficiency he brought to this brain-storming session, and the meeting was adjourned at 11:00 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,


Peter Schneeman