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Germantown Artists Roundtable members mull options for group’s long-term future

At Thursday night’s Germantown Artists Roundtable meeting, talk turned to evolving from a loose collective of networking artists and volunteers into a sustainable arts entity with organizational and fundraising structures.

“Our arts effort is at a crossroads,” said Ernie Freeman, Germantown Community Connection vice president and roundtable organizer, at the monthly meeting at First Presbyterian Church of Germantown.

Freeman wasn’t the only community member who talked about the group’s need to evolve.

Special meeting scheduled

Also among the 25 people on hand was photographer Gary Reed, Germantown United Community Development Corporation (GUCDC) liaison Andy Trackman, Northwest Germantown Neighbors founder Lisa Hopkins and roundtable host Rev. Kevin Porter.

Porter announced that a special hour-long meeting would precede the Aug. 16 regular roundtable session for those interested in transforming the group.

There was also speculation about the development of an official mission and bylaws, as well as creating a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

“It’s put-up or shut-up time,” said Reed, frustrated with members who recuse themselves from planning efforts and then complain that they don’t have a voice.

What’s next?

Since its December creation, the Roundtable has existed under a yearlong sponsorship from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s Classic Towns initiative’s Germantown arm.

Roundtable volunteers will decide what happens to the group at the end of this year.

Trackman noted that artists maintaining and expanding their presence in the area is integral to GUCDC plans to revitalize the Germantown and Chelten Avenue corridors.

“Having artists’ input into that plan is critical,” Trackman said.

Some attendees worried that formalizing the group would make it gravitate toward well-established, well-known artists and lose the voices of beginners or hobbyists.

A Classic Town Germantown representative urged the group to organize and frame an official mission. Hopkins spoke about fundraising opportunities. For his part, Porter pointed out that artists’ skills do not always translate into planning, fundraising and organization-building prowess.

Reed concurred, and called the need for practical strides “the elephant in the room.”

“Every time talk of an event comes up, money comes up,” he said. “When money comes up, responsibility comes up.”

The special meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Aug. 16 at the Chelten Avenue church.

Art at the Roundtable meeting

Artist presentations at the conclusion of the meeting included the eclectic paintings and photography of Adrienne Morrison, which she described as “an example of what happens when you retire too early.”

Her images included a Senegalese village, a meditation on shifting images of the self and a wildly colored and textured evocation of what a neighborhood would look like to a satellite’s eye.

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