The Capital Poetry Collective Annual General Meeting was last night. I t was held at the Royal Oak on Laurier, as it has for the last few years… and I have to get something out of the way right off the top: I was very disappointed in the turn-out.
I was not surprised by the poor turn-out, but I was disappointed. Part of me realizes that it is a compliment, in that if people are generally happy with how things are going, they tend to not pay attention to how it is getting done. They never want to see the sausages being made.
However, this is supposed to be a collective, and it can be a little disheartening sometimes to feel ‘taken for granted’.
Having said that, thank you to the people who did show up. We had some good conversations and made some strong decisions.
Not everything was perfect and there is still some serious work that needs to be done.
Brad Morden (CPC Director)
Rusty Priske (Capital Slam Slammaster, Treasurer and Ottawa Spoken Word Canada Rep)
Ruthanne Edward (Volunteer Co-ordinator)
ArRay-of-WoRds (Ottawa Youth Poetry Slam Slammaster)
Kevin Matthews (Advisor)
John Akpata (Advisor)
Sir Realist (Advisor)
Loh El (Collective member)
We started with reports from the director, slammasters, treasurer and SpoCan rep.
There are a couple of important things to note here.
From a slam perspective, the year was very successful. We had 72 different poets compete at CapSlam and put together a great team.
From a collective perspective, things were not as great. This was the first year since 2006 that attendance dropped from the previous year, including a drastic drop at the finals. We have serious work ahead in regards to promotions and volunteers. This would be discussed further in the meeting.
The collective actually lost money this year… a very small amount but in a year where the festival was held in Toronto we should have been banking a surplus to help pay for the Saskatoon trip this fall. Rusty blamed himself for presenting a ‘too rosy’ picture last year which led the collective to make some spending decisions they may have not been prudent.
We discussed money issues later in the meeting.
Grants: Both the Capital Poetry Collective and the Ottawa Youth Poetry Slam received letters indicating that our grant applications to the Canada Council of the Arts had been disqualified for what we believe to be incorrect readings of the applications (on other factors). Rusty has written to the CCoA to challenge this ruling. More info to come later.
We also discussed our support of VERSeOttawa, VERSeFest and the VERSeOttawa Women’s Slam Championships.
Both Brad Morden (CPC Director) and Rusty Priske (Capital Slam Slammaster) ran unopposed and were elected by acclamation.
Last year we agreed to bring the Ottawa Youth Poetry under the ‘umbrella’ of the Capital Poetry Collective, but we never really discussed what that would mean. Last year Greg Frankson (one of the OYPS founders) moved to Toronto and left the show in the hands of ArRay-of-WoRds but continued to handle the finances. When it came time for grant applications this year, he asked Rusty to take over as Treasurer, which he agreed to do, as it was a CPC series. This year we decided to formalize and solidify the relationship. After discussion, we created the following rule change for the Collective:
Voting members of the collective consist of anyone who has slammed or volunteered at Capital Slam or the Ottawa Youth Poetry Slam over the past two seasons,
Anyone who has represented Capital Slam or the Ottawa Youth Poetry Slam at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word,
The founders of Capital Slam or the Ottawa Youth Poetry Slam (Greg Frankson, Elissa Molino, Danielle K.L. Gregoire)
The discussion also led us to change our list of elected positions (as opposed to appointed positions, like Volunteer Coordinator or Promotions Coordinator).
Elected positions: Capital Poetry Collective Director, Capital Slam Slammaster, Ottawa Youth Poetry Slam Slammaster
The discussion led us to change our definition of who elects each position. The new rule is:
The Capital Poetry Collective Director is elected by all CPC members in attendance, as defined above.
The individual Slammaster positions are elected by CPC members who are qualified as members through their associations with the specific show in question.
In other words, if you are a CPC member due only to your association with Capital Slam, you do not get to vote for the OYPS slammaster position, and vice versa.
We then revisited elections to confirm the additional position. ArRay-of-WoRds ran unopposed and was elected by acclamation.
We addressed the round draws at Capital Slam. After a discussion it was decided that we would NOT change the rule this season and all rounds would continue to be populated by random draw on stage.
We discussed whether to have five poets in the final round at the CapSlam Finals, or stick with four. There was some misunderstanding where some people thought we had done all five in the past. The reason the belief existed is because last year we had five in the final round, but that was because AFTER the fourth round, there was a tie for fourth place (between Sean O’Gorman and PrufRock) that necessitated both poets be given spots in the final round.
In the discussion about whether we SHOULD give all five poets a spot, there was some talk that it would create a situation where someone LOSES in the last round, when that last round is usually thought of as a ‘victory lap’ of sorts. We did not achieve full consensus but after voting we agreed to leave the rule as is and the final round at the CapSlam Finals will continue to include the top 4 only (barring a 4th place tie).
We discussed how we handle the ‘post-season’ at CapSlam. Pros and cons were weighed and after much discussion, here is the new post-season set-up starting with the 2012-2013 season.
The Top 16 poets will be entered into one of two Semi-Finals. At each Semi-Final, the top 4 performing poets will move onto the Finals. Scores will no longer be cumulative and the Finals will have all 8 poets starting at zero.
The shows will be seeded based on the final rankings from the regular season. The 1st semi-final will include the poets who ranked 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 11th, 13th and 15th. The 2nd semi-final will include the poets who ranked 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th, 14th and 16th. If any poet indicates in advance that they will not be taking part in the post-season, their names will be removed before the seeding takes place. If any poet declines the invitation after the rankings are set, the spots will not be reseeded, but will be replaced by a runner-up on a one-to one basis.
The basic show schedule will be as follows:
1st Saturday of April – Final Regular Show at rankings announcement (@ Mercury Lounge)
3rd Saturday of April – 1st Semi-Final show (@ Mercury Lounge)
1st Saturday of May – 2nd Semi-Final show (@ Mercury Lounge)
3rd Saturday of May – no Capital Slam show (but likely a No Rules Slam held @ Mercury Lounge)
1st Saturday of June (or as close as we can get) – Capital Slam Finals (@ Alumni Auditorium, University of Ottawa)
(If you think that the discussion of finances might not affect you, please reconsider. More changes came about in this section.)
Rusty spoke about the poor financial results of the year. Increasing revenue is important, but so are controlling costs and recognizing the changing the landscape of the scene and how people interact with it.
We discussed three big ticket items.
Live at Capital Slam CD
Sales on the CD have plummeted. For the previous year we spent $3000 on the CD and sold less than $300 worth of them. We had always accepted that the purpose of the CD was not to turn a profit, but the levels of losses on it had become quite drastic. We discussed multiple options, including making a cheaper CD but the general feeling was that buying CDs was not the primary method that people used to consume poetry as media any more. There were ideas launched about podcasts and a few other things but the success that some people and series (including Ottawa’s Once Upon A Slam and the Vancouver Poetry Slam) have had with video made us decide that this was the way to go.
The general consensus was that nobody would film the shows, edit a few videos and put them up on YouTube for free. While there was some dissension there, as there are people who already do that much (and more) work for the Collective and the Slam on a purely volunteer basis, if nobody stepped forward to do such a job, it would not get done and for reasons such as promotions and history, it needed to be done.
A motion was passed to allocate $1350 (half of our net loss on the CD) towards making videos. This would be small honorarium for the regular shows with a larger budget for the ‘post-season’. (The specific break-down was left up to Brad and Rusty)
The Live at Capital Slam CD will not be made after this season.
Sending a poet to the Canadian Individual Slam Championship
The first year of the Canadian Indies we approved someone to represent us (OpenSecret, who went on to win) but we did not provide direct financial support. Last year at the AGM a motion was passed to buy a plane ticket for our rep. That cost us nearly $1,000.
We agreed that we should not be paying that much for a single poet. We discussed how to support that poet and WHO that poet should be. In the end, after a very close vote over who to send, we decided the following:
A special show will be put on to choose the Capital Slam representative for the Canadian Individual Slam Championships in Vancouver. The profits from the show will be given to that poet in order to finance the trip. If the proceeds come to less than $500, the CPC will ‘top-up’ the amount to a minimum of $500. If it exceeds $1000, anything over that will go to the CPC.
Paying the show host
Starting this past season we started paying both the Host and the DJ $50 per show. The DJ fee has been provided as part of a grant but the host fee comes out of the show profits.
There was discussion about priorities, while nobody was questioning the importance of a host, the CPC is a volunteer organization and there are other positions which do more work than the host (not just during the show) – who do so for free. There was a motion to start paying those people, but that did not get very far, as we are not in that position, financially.
There was a difference of opinion about how much of a volunteer organization it should be but there was a general agreement that our finances could not support paying everyone who ‘deserved’ to be paid. In a split decision the following was decided:
Effective immediately, the Capital Slam host will be a volunteer position.
Of note, the DJ position was exempt from this due to the grant. If the grant is not continued this year, it will need to be addressed as well.
Ottawa Youth Poetry Slam Finances
With the apparent disqualification of OYPS’s grant application, OYPS has zero finances. A statement was made that any features this season will have to be volunteer from the poetry community in Ottawa. The poets (at the meeting, but this statement will be spread wider) are encouraged to see a OYPS feature as ‘serving the community’ and to consider doing it if ArRay-of-WoRds contacts them, even though there can be no financial compensation for doing so.
Our volunteer situation has become quite drastic. When Ruthanne put out a call for volunteers to help at the semi-finals and finals, not a single person answered the call.
We have become an organization where, apart from the AGM, any decisions about the show are made completely by Rusty and Brad without input from any collective members other than Ruthanne, as volunteer coordinator. Everything involving the creation, execution and promotion of the show is done by Brad (who books the features and arranges for a host) and Rusty and Ruthanne (who do everything else).
We NEED that to change, for many reasons . When help is needed, it needs to be available, but more than that, putting all of the responsibilities on the backs of a few people leads to times when the wrong person is doing a job (Rusty is NOT good at promotion, yet if he doesn’t do it…) and plain old burn-out. We need more hands on deck. Period.
This discussion led to the next one…
Brad stated that he wants quarterly ‘family’ meetings. Nobody spoke against it.
Attendance is slipping. Our promotion efforts are very poor. We need someone to take over doing promotion. Rusty mentioned that he had someone ask him about doing promotion but she did not come to the meeting so he did not want to speak for her.
Regardless, we all agreed this wasn’t the job of ONE person.
Very little was accomplished about the problems of volunteers and promotions, other than recognizing they are problems.
(Note: there will be further posts on these topics)
NO RULES SLAM
Loh El proposed bringing his No Rules Slam under the Capital Poetry Collective umbrella. We discussed what that would mean. We agreed that he would handle all his own finances etc. If he makes money he can keep it but if he loses money it is on him. We will just help him with the leverage we can get through promotion, bookings etc.
We discussed whether ANY show could come under our umbrella, like, for example, Jenna’s new show, in addition to the showcase show that Brad is planning. We agreed that they could as long as we decided they aligned with our view of what the CPC stands for and supports.
The No Rules Slam is now officially a CPC-aligned show.
And that was it for the 2012 AGM.
There will be follow up posts, especially about the video, volunteers and promotions. Watch for it!
Also, please give feedback! Comments are VERY welcome!