The History and Function of the Gateway Advisory Committee
The Gateway Advisory Committee (GAC) serves to further the mission of Gateway Arts through volunteer efforts in fundraising, advocacy, and ambassadorship. The GAC was established in 2000 in response to a request by the former CEO of Vinfen, Gary Lamson. He asked all services to consider forming advisory committees made up of community leaders, stakeholders such as family members, philanthropic individuals, and businesspeople in the community. I immediately responded and formed the Gateway Advisory Committee by inviting a diverse group of individuals who shared the common goal of supporting Gateway Arts by contributing their valuable expertise and counsel. We had our first meeting in 2000 with Virginia and Marvin Geller as co-chairs. Individuals are added to the committee through recommendations from existing members and/or Gateway staff. Prospective members are invited to sit in at a meeting prior to making a commitment. As of 2022, there are 18 members on the GAC.
The Gateway Advisory Committee is associated with Gateway Arts, a part of the extensive services Vinfen offers throughout Massachusetts and beyond. With the emphasis on its advisory capacity, the committee has no fiduciary or administrative responsibilities and functions under the umbrella of Vinfen for tax exempt status associated with fundraising. Membership on the committee is strictly voluntary, and members receive no payment or special benefits for their services.
Over the past two decades fundraising has become a major need and goal for Gateway Arts and therefore a major focus of the GAC. At its inception, Vinfen’s then CEO Gary Lamson and then COO Bruce Bird affirmed that all funds raised would be used for Gateway Arts. Careful communication continues to take place between Gateway’s development office and the development office at Vinfen.
The Committee has worked with Gateway Arts leadership to develop fundraising events focusing on needs such as staff recruitment and retention, capital expenses, and purchasing equipment and technology. Gateway’s development officer is responsible for the acknowledgement for tax purposes of donations. In addition, the development officer writes grants and copy for annual development events with input from the GAC as to potential grantees or donors. Committee members serve as ambassadors for exhibitions and the sale of Gateway Arts artwork. They plan events such as A Taste of Gateway, a popular annual spring fundraiser. They network with friends and collectors who are interested in self-taught art and the Gateway Arts mission.
The GAC operates under the leadership of the director of Gateway Arts. Administrative staff including the Artistic Program Director and Development Officer attend regular meetings suggesting agenda items and consulting on the feasibility of certain ideas for fundraising. Neither Vinfen administrators nor Gateway staff serve as committee members but are sometimes invited to share information and small presentations.
The GAC has grown to be an invaluable partner in the diversification of Gateway Arts funding. Although fundraising is a minor component in Gateway’s operating budget, the funds raised are essential to Gateway’s sustainability and are instrumental in closing the gap between the art center’s operating budget and expenses.
Director, Gateway Arts