II : The Early Days

by Bill Coons, GPAS Historian

In the first article, I described the time leading up to the organizational meeting on May 1st, 1969. The 16 people who gathered in room 306 in Olympia High School on that evening were brought together by Bob Holtz to organize a group to coordinate the various community performing organizations. They decided that the first order of business should be to elect officers. Miriam Newberry was elected President, Betty Alleman, Vice President, and Fola Tanchick, Secretary. No Treasurer was elected, probably because they had no money to oversee, but they did acknowledge that additional officers could be elected as needed. They then turned to the formation of committees. Recruitment, Publicity, Finance and Constitution Committees were staffed by volunteers. The performing group foremost in the minds of those attendees was the Community Symphony, conducted by Roy Thrall. They paused in their work long enough to direct a letter to Mr. Thrall thanking him for his service. What the organization should be called was the next concern. A motion was made to call it “The Board of Directors of the Greece Community Symphony” and name those present as Directors. The somewhat unwieldy name was approved, and they adjourned until the following month.

The board again met on June 5th. There were some different faces. Six of the original 16 were absent, three would play no further part in the organization. There were three new attendees: Charles Dewey, Roy Thrall and Tom Saul. Ms. Newberry reported that David Fetler, Director of the Greece Orchestral Society, expressed a desire to join the Board. His concerns were publicity, attendance, music and money (sounds familiar. Ed.). After lengthy discussion, the Board voted to welcome the Orchestral Society to the Board. Next came a discussion of a proposed Constitution and By-Laws presented by the Constitution Committee with Bob Holtz as spokesman. Part of the discussion included a motion to change the organization’s name to Greece Performing Arts Society, which passed (for which we are eternally grateful. Ed). Dr. Fetler and Roy Thrall both requested $150-175 for music for their orchestras for the coming season. Bob Holtz requested a schedule of their concerts. The sources of funding were left to the next meeting.

The next meeting was held on July 10th with Dr. Fetler in attendance. The Board settled down for some serious work. Two additional officers were authorized: a Correspondence Secretary, with Harriet Lau as the nominee, and a Historian, with Myron White nominated (neither was at the meeting). Publicity concerns came next. It was decided to ask the Greece Post to send a reporter to each meeting. A number of other suggestions were made, including flyers and posters, a printed brochure, and organizational contacts, all of which are in use today. Several volunteers accepted follow up responsibility. Roy Thrall announced two concert dates for the Community Symphony at Greece Town Mall. Four concerts were scheduled for the Orchestral Society at Arcadia High School by Dr. Fetler, two on Sunday afternoons and two on Tuesday evenings. It was suggested that more people could attend if concerts were on weekends. Dr. Fetler promptly changed his Tuesday concerts to Sundays. On the subject of finances, a motion to receive a “free will” offering at concerts was passed, with the note that an offering would not be possible at the Town Mall. It was also decided to ask for financial help from the service organizations in Greece and from Basil Marella, Director of the Greece Recreation Dept. Free printing of the brochure was also to be investigated. Adjournment came after two hours of work.

Just three weeks later, on July 31st, the Board met again. Harriet Lau was present as the new Corresponding Secretary. It was reported that the editor of the Greece Post had agreed to “co-operate” with the Board. Service organizations had agreed to provide financial support. Papers necessary to incorporate and/or register the Board as a non-profit organization had been obtained and this action would be investigated. The brochure was again discussed, and a committee was appointed to design a layout. A motion to ask the Suburban Art Group to join the Board was approved. Town funding was to be the subject of a meeting the following week. It was decided to ask for $1,000 for the year beginning in September 1969. Realizing that the organization was going to have money, it was appropriate to elect a Treasurer. Charles Dewey accepted the position.

On September 11th the Board had a short meeting with just 10 in attendance. Most of the meeting was used to discuss and make changes to the Constitution and By-Laws. The invitation to the Suburban Art Group had led to the question “How about the Theatre Guild?” It was decided to ask both groups to join, if it would fit under the non-profit rules. Design of the brochure was complete and it was ready for printing.

Highlights of the remaining Board meetings in 1969 were as follows: The Town of Greece Recreation Dept. budgeted $1,000, as requested. Efforts to incorporate continued. The Community Symphony needed members. A committee would be formed to work on the problem. Board attendance was decreasing (only six in November). It was decided to stop sending minutes (apparently hand written) to all Board members except the President and Recording Secretary. Then the other members would have to attend the meetings to find what was going on (interesting philosophy). President Newberry asked members to come to the first meeting in 1970 with ideas for forming a community band.