The SweetWater Music Festival held its Annual General Meeting on Thursday, March 18. Once again it was an online event. Along with the election of Board Directors for the coming year, the successes of the past year were put in the spotlight and the new three-year Strategic Plan was introduced.
Board Chair Lynda Montgomery in her Chair's Report noted it was one of the most challenging but also most rewarding years in SweetWater's 17-year history.
"Congratulations to all the SweetWater Family. It was a year where calculated pivoting demonstrated our ability to be innovative and resilient. SweetWater was committed to find a way to continue to bring live music to all!"
During his report, Artistic Director Edwin Huizinga began by thanking everyone for helping to make SweetWater Surreal a reality in 2020. He also offered his thanks on behalf of the many musicians who were given an opportunity to perform over the past year (23 from across North America).
"It has been an incredible journey pivoting and reacting, and learning, and trying, and experimenting with new incredible ways to share music with everyone."
Treasurer Jill Willington provided highlights of SweetWater's financials from the past fiscal year. She noted SweetWater ended the year in a strong financial position thanks to keeping overall expenditures in check and higher than expected revenues thanks to additional grants and strong donor support.
General Manager Paul Eichhorn offered an overview of how SweetWater confronted the impact of COVID-19. He provided a timeline of how the organization quickly pivoted and found a way to stage 12 live concerts as well as launch five new online programming streams. Eichhorn noted SweetWater had close 700 people for live events in 2020 and an estimated 8,000 plus for online programming including the first-ever livestream concert last October with Measha Brueggergosman.
The AGM also included updates from all key committees including Resource Development, Education Outreach, Endowment Fund Committee, and two new committees, Audience Development, and Board Development.
Following the reports, Board Director Charlotte MacFarlane provided some details about SweetWater's future plans. The new three-year Strategic Plan 2021-2023 was introduced to members. This plan was created over the past year and took into consideration the impacts of COVID-19. MacFarlane noted several community partners and performing arts industry leaders were consulted during the creation of this plan. The plan has four strategic priorities: Lead with Vision, Embracing Innovation, Build Resilience, and Foster Collaboration.
SweetWater's leadership team for the coming year will for the most part be the same though there are some changes in the Executive Team. Four directors (Lynda Montgomery, Jill Willington, Jackie Mersich, and Charlotte MacFarlane) were re-elected for new two-year terms. Montgomery will continue as Chair with Willington serving as Vice-Chair. A new Treasurer was appointed. Board Director Adrian Hussey will take on this role. Jackie Mersich will remain as Secretary.
The SweetWater Board did bid farewell and thanks to a longtime Director and past Chair, Colleen Purdon. She joined the Board in 2015 and was a key player in several many major initiatives over her time on the Board including hiring of the current GM in late 2015, creation of the 2018-2020 Strategic Plan, hiring of the current AD in 2019, creation of the Mark Fewer Legacy Fund, as well as helping to put together the new Strategic Plan. Purdon will remain as a member of the Education Outreach Committee.