Written by: Ferron Olynyk, SCC Member Services Coordinator
I love working with people. In my job, I interact on a daily basis with our members, with potential members, and the general public. I feel really good about the vision and mandate of the SCC, and I love being part of a team that is working to support Saskatchewan artists, and to promote fine craft in the province. And of course, it is such a pleasure to be surrounded by the work in the gallery and Boutique!
Member Services is a basically catch-all term for anything to do with membership. This includes the following:
I coordinate our annual jury session, held in March, and interim sessions held throughout the year. All marketers at SCC markets must be juried members, and this process allows for two jurors working in the same medium to review their work and determine if it meets the SCC standards of excellence in craft. I like puzzles, so slotting everyone into the schedule based on all the different availabilities is a challenge I enjoy. The sessions themselves can be very hectic, but they are always such an interesting experience – seeing everyone’s work is my favourite part.
SCC Annual Markets
Coordinating our annual markets (the Saskatchewan Handcraft Festival in Battleford and the WinterGreen Fine Craft Market in Regina) is one of the biggest parts of my job. Market preparations start in January and go all year. Almost as soon as a market is done, I start working on it again for the next year. Preparing for the markets includes sending out and processing applications; booking advertising and working with our communications team – Vivian and Sydney – to promote the markets; creating floor plans; and much more. And then of course it’s setting up and being at the markets themselves, which is very busy but also a lot of fun. It’s a great opportunity for me to talk with many of our members face to face, and for them to give me input on the market.
WinterGreen also includes our Emerging Artist Market Experience Program, where newer artists are able to gain market experience without having to go through our jury process. I run an Emerging Artist workshop for these participants, and help get them ready for the markets as best I can.
For the past two years, we have had funding from Creative Saskatchewan to take some of our members to the Alberta Gift Fair and the Toronto Gift Fair. This has been a big learning area for me, as I knew very little about wholesaling when I started this project. I coordinate the SCC’s participation in the wholesale shows, handling the logistics and working with the artists to get them ready. We also had a wholesale tour last fall, where I travelled to several places in the province with two wholesale experts (Bernard Burton from the Atlantic Craft Alliance and Saskatchewan potter Sue Robertson) to visit artists in their studios. We are learning lots as we go, and the wholesale program will continue to evolve in the future.
Member Workshops and Social Events
While these don’t happen as often as I would like, I am responsible for coordinating workshops and social events for members. We aim to hold one or more workshops each year; for example, last year, I worked with Vivian and Sydney on an extensive social media workshop. We are also working on finding ways of sharing information with members across the province. At the annual markets, there is a marketer’s dinner, and I organize other social events when possible. I hope to find more time for these kinds of events this year.
Membership and Outreach
I work with Lesley Sutherland, our Accounting Coordinator, on membership administration. After Lesley has received and processed an application, she passes it on to me and I send out a new member package. I try to talk either on the phone or via email with all new members to find out how we can help them get the most out of their membership.
I answer calls and emails almost every day from people interested in membership and from members with questions about a variety of things. I also field calls and emails from people with all sorts of questions – anything from someone looking for a particular artist, wondering about market opportunities in the province, or looking for particular materials. Sometimes I get to play detective a bit, as I help someone find the name of an artist they saw at a market two years ago.
I really enjoy this part of my job – I love talking to people, answering their questions, and problem solving.
There are more little bits and pieces of what I do, but this is Member Services in a nutshell. When it comes down to it, my job is to assist our members however I can, and to promote the Saskatchewan Craft Council and craft in the province generally. We’re currently exploring additional ways and opportunities to work with our members and will be rolling out new programming in the coming year. We want to be dynamic and responsive to your needs, and are listening intently to what you say you need. I have learned so much in the last couple years, and I look forward to exploring some ideas that are on the horizon. It’s always interesting at the SCC!