I originally posted this on my blog, however Brigitte thought it should be brought into this forum to encourage discussion...so here goes!
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To SNAG or not to SNAG, that is the question...

...well, not really, but it makes for a catchy (or should I say kitschy) blog title!

SNAG = Society of North American Goldsmiths. "An international educational nonprofit organization which supports and advances the professional practice of artists, designers, jewelers and metalsmiths." (or so they state on their website...)

This year's annual conference is entitled "REVOLUTION" and runs from May 20-23, 2009 in Philadelphia, PA.

from the Oxford American Dictionary:
revolution |ˌrevəˈloō sh ən| noun 1 a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system. • ( the Revolution) the American Revolution.
• (often the Revolution) (in Marxism) the class struggle that is expected to lead to political change and the triumph of communism.
• a dramatic and wide-reaching change in the way something works or is organized or in people's ideas about it : marketing underwent a revolution.

2 an instance of revolving : one revolution a second.
• motion in orbit or a circular course or around an axis or center.
• the single completion of an orbit or rotation.
So now the question is, what meaning of revolution is SNAG referring to? Are they revolting against something? If so, WHAT?!? OR...Are they simply orbiting around themselves and dancing in circles?!? These are valid questions. And if anyone knows the answers, please tell me!

Some of you may already be aware of my disappointment in SNAG, as I stated in my older post about Metalsmith's 2008 Exhibition in Print "Equilibrium: Body as Site." If not, you can read it here.

Despite the fact that I dropped my SNAG membership years ago because I didn't feel represented by the organization, I was truly interested in attending this year's conference. The dizzy title "REVOLUTION," naturally peeked my curiosity and the fact that it is taking place in my old stomping ground, Philadelphia, were factors. But I was actually more interested in the conference due to the web 2.0 wave. I feel like I have connected with more of my peers within the last year through facebook, crafthaus, flickr and Etsy than I have in the last 16 years since I graduated from college. The ability to meet many of these people in real life was the real draw. I was also very interested in the Professional Development Seminar. (Although I am confused why it is call a "pre-conference program"...doesn't it take place after registration begins...therefore it takes place during the conference. Are they trying to separate the professionals from the academics at the conference too?)

Unfortunately, I am not able to attend the "REVOLUTION" due to a schedule conflict.

I am looking forward to hearing reports from others about the "REVOLUTION" so I can decide if I want to renew my SNAG membership or to resign to the fact that the organization is not meant for designers like me. I would be naive if I thought that one revolutionary conference would change the feudalism of our art metal community. However, with the influx of a younger, and hopefully more open-minded audience, change may slowly start to take place.

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"Subvert from within" we always say. Pressed for time? Ya say ya wanna revolution? Start one!
Following is a format from the Revolutionary's Starter Kit:
1. List your grievances. Be specific.
2. State a desired solution to grievances. Be even more specific.
3. Circulate grievances and solution amongst your peers. Build an army.
4. Present your grievances and solutions at the gates of the Ivory Tower with a casual acknowledgment of the army standing behind you. Be gracious.
I'm confused. 2Roses, are you suggesting that I start a revolution or that snag should?
A lot of people in the metal arts would like to see SNAG become more of a vibrant dynamic organization. Many of them are working within SNAG to bring about those changes. We're suggesting that you could be one too. If enough of us who share a vision come together we can absolutely make SNAG into what we want it to be.

Balls in your court Danielle - what do you want SNAG to be?
2 Roses,
The voting on line was a great addition, very easy and also mentioned (with your pictures) during the conference. Thanks for your contribution.
Thank you Harriete. It was a very positive experience and we look forward to other SNAG projects where we can contribute.
Danielle,
The Professional Development Seminar was a pre-conference program because is started before the conference. This developed from a desire to provide practical information. The success of our PDS programming means that NEXT YEAR the PDS will be part of the actual conference in Houston!

This year the PDS Professional Development Seminar was the best ever!
We had a fantastic web speaker and the panel discussion was interesting. I have heard that some people loved the web speaker Marla Johnson Norris from Aristotle Design the best! Others loved the discussion with the gallery representatives! Guess this just proves that we had a range of information and you can't make everyone happy all the time.

On Saturday our lunch discussion was passionate and diverse! Quick paced and animated we could have gone on for another hour easy...everyone had more questions and opinions.

I hope you can hear more opinions from others.
AND
We want to hear now about what people need for next years topics. We have to decide within the next few months!!!!!!! Express your opinions now.

Read the Professional Guidelines. There are two new topics about Quality
Photgraphic Images
and Working with Digital Images.

Ask your professional Questions at my blog: www.askharriete.typepad.com
Hi Danielle–I know you've been reading about the conference on my blog (i'm still a few posts away from being done reporting on the conference), and agree with you that the title Revolution may not have been the best, especially since many of the talks harkened back to past craft breakthroughs of the 60's and 70's and was really more of celebrating SNAG's anniversary than future. But, the vibe I felt actually being there (and I only go every blue moon) was invigorating–change is in the air; the 2.0 generation cannot be ignored. The PDS on Wednesday certainly proved that (it was "Pre-conference" because SNAG didn't recognize it as being an official part of the conference--that changes next year as it will finally be billed as part of the conference, both in the budget and on the schedule)!
For years I too felt that SNAG didn't do anything for me personally, but here I met so many young, talented, and motivated fellow members who are really ready to make this organization work for us on our terms. You should definitely consider attending either next year in Houston, or 2011 in Seattle.
Thanks to all of you that have replied to my post! I followed the conference via twitter (as well as I could) and have been reading the blogs (still catching up on them).

I am wondering if the orchid discussions that bloomed after the 2009 EIP were discussed at this conference. I haven't heard anything. SNAG must realize that disgruntled members will just disappear...don't they want to try to AT LEAST talk about it???

The other thing I am wondering is, aside from a PDS at an annual conference, how is SNAG planning on making the organization more inclusive to the non-academic jeweler?
Danielle, What do you think SNAG should be planning for the non-academic jeweler?
Suggestions please. I am all ears.

Harriete
I posted on Danielle's blog, didn't see the conversation brewing over here. PDS, becoming part of the conference next year good, making people choose between attending a PDS discussion and Metalsmith magazine feedback meeting, bad. I'm sure many people would have wanted to participate in both.

Perhaps "Professional Development", along with the articles posted on etsy can have a permanent place on the SNAG website, expanding on the professional guidelines section. Galleries that are interested in receiving submissions could be listed with contact information.

As a non-academic jeweler, I would like to see the public face of SNAG, Metalsmith be more inclusive of a member's work. Using the very successful Surface Design Association as a model, one can see a beautiful, relevant, cutting edge publication that still makes room for a juried members section of images. Metalsmith should open it's pages and do the same. Many jewelers decline to advertise in it because, not only doesn't it reach their clients, they don't see their work represented.

At the end of the PDS discussion several people started a discussion about a need for a broader advertising campaign that goes beyond American Craft magazine and the like, which is perceived as preaching to the choir. In addition to addressing a large organized effort, perhaps an editor from a consumer magazine such as Elle, could be brought in to educate the members about what they look for and need in artist's press release materials.
Thea,
Thanks for all the ideas! They are very good and I will pass them along.
If you or anyone else thinks of something else, please let me know either on this forum and/or directly, I don't want to miss one comment either about the PDS in Philadelphia or future topics for Houston PDS.

The PDS in Houseton is only nine months away! Yikes! It means we need to decide the three hours of PDS programming very soon. The deadlines are already looming.

Everyone out there in this virtual forum and beyond, this is your chance to make a suggestion. Tell your friends and professional colleques. Send your suggestions to me and/or post them.

My email is bermaid [at] harriete-estel-berman.info .
I haven't found SNAG to be something that I need or want to be a part of at this time and I'll tell you why.
I have been a silversmith and a caster for over 10 years. I had looked into the SNAG organization a while back, but started getting more interested in it a year ago, not because of the stellar reputation it had, but because of a few very outspoken members that felt the need to label and dissect the indie craft world.

As someone who works very hard doing fine craft shows, indie shows, sells on-line, in galleries and B&M's, I'm still not the type of person SNAG seems to want to appeal to. It seems like the world of SNAG is a very small one.

"how is SNAG planning on making the organization more inclusive to the non-academic jeweler?" I'd love to hear the answer to that too.

To SNAG or not to SNAG? well, for now, not to SNAG. I have a wonderful community of metalsmiths that I see on-line and at shows. These are the people you want at your conferences and speaking there too. It doesn't take a lot of digging to see that SNAG doesn't give these people enough credit for keeping art and craft alive and thriving in this country.

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