STATE OF SASSAS: Director’s Report, July 2014 – SASSAS is strapped.


Time to add some more coins to the SASSAS jukebox!

It’s great to be back after a year in Charlottesville as the Ruffin Distinguished Artist in Residence at UVA. SASSAS is blessed with two dedicated Assistant Directors, Christina Ondrus and Daniel Corral, who stepped up and did an incredible job while I was away! In the last month SASSAS has launched an incredible new website (fabulously designed by Team A) and we’re received two Critics Picks and a review in the Los Angeles Times!

Now to the tough stuff. SASSAS is strapped.

SASSAS is a tweener: we’re larger than that small sustainable organization of 7-8 years ago – SASSAS has three part time staff members, an office, two free year round programs (soundShoppe and soundSpark), two concert series (sound. and Ad Hoc) a yearly workshop for middle school kids (Kids Play) and 15 years worth of programming that we’re gradually adding to our brand spanking new website and archives. But with a budget that is under $100,000 a year, SASSAS is still too small to qualify for many of the grants that would help us sustain our current infrastructure.

Yet, our ambitions often exceed our size – free events like Mapping sound., Tonalism at Glow, Welcome Inn Time Machine, sound. at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, Kids Play, soundShoppe and soundSpark are the heart of SASSAS.

Our current funders such as The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and the City of West Hollywood as well as several foundations such as The Foundation for Contemporary Arts** are experiencing the strain of a larger number of organizations applying for limited funds. This has lead to some funders cutting grant amounts – our DCA grant has been reduced by 50% – while others limit applications to every other year or every third year.

Because of this, SASSAS relies heavily on fundraisers and member support to meet its expenses, especially Blast!, our annual garden party. The reports from this year’s Blast were glowing, aided by our generous hosts Kirby Dick and Rita Valencia and help from our Board of Directors, our supporters enjoyed another relaxing afternoon of good food, company and spirit. But….SASSAS didn’t succeed in meeting its fundraising goals – we raised less than 50% of the money needed to sustain us.

In the next few months SASSAS will be reaching out to its audience to make up the deficit from Blast! and move closer to the $100,000 budget mark that will enable SASSAS to reach the next level.

What what we’re doing and what you can expect:

  • If your membership has lapsed, expect a phone call or email.
  • An increase in the size of our Board of Directors
  • A renewed effort to place the unsold Exquisite Corpse works from Blast!
  • Listening Parties, one at the home of Board Co-Chair Renée Petropoulos, another hosted by artist Mary Kelly, and (maybe) a third at my cabin in the sky in Mt. Washington.
  • A kickstarter campaign for our October 5 Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook concert
  • A pageant / variety show fundraiser dedicated to long time SASSAS supporter and friend Mike Kelley, tentatively scheduled for Halloween.

And of course we have some great programming in the pipeline with space as raw material featuring Carmina Escobar, Odeya Nini and Woody Sullender, Kids Play Oliveros, another great concert at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook and several soundSparks and soundShoppes still to come this year!

If you’re not currently a member, consider joining. If you are a member, consider making an additional contribution.

SASSAS is struggling, but with your help, we’re not going away, promise!

Looking forward to reading your suggestions and comments!

Cindy Bernard
Founding Director


**Update 8/10/2014 – I just received a letter from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts that they’ve decided to end their grants to organizations program and concentrate on individual artist grants.