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Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes

Monday, May 23, 2022



The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. In attendance were Chairman Josh Krugman and Trustees Jim Burress, Margaret Veresko, Brad Louison, Ted Doren, Dan Hendricksen, Mell Roca, Suzanne Nassise, Jennifer Faria, Neil Brafman, Will Arvantes, Jenica Reed Conley, Artistic Director Christine Noel and Executive Director Elaine Cunningham.


The minutes of the March 14 Board meeting were approved.


Josh briefly reviewed the strategic plan, nothing that there were no changes to mission, vision and values.  There are five broad strategic objectives:  


  • Delivering artistic excellence in our performances.  Tactics to achieve this are attracting and retaining excellent singers; commissioning new compositions; and strengthening our relationship with the Rhode Island Philharmonic.


  • Focusing our education program on underserved communities.  Tactics include securing individual donors and grants, identifying and recruiting partner schools, recruiting a new music director, and developing a fundraising plan beyond the grant we received to begin In Harmony to secure its long-term stability.


  • Expanding public awareness and increasing concert attendance.  Tactics include investing in social media, growing our marketing database, partnering with other organizations, improving public relations, expanding our organizational capabilities, and expanding staff support in marketing.


  • Ensuring long-term financial growth and stability for the Singers.  Tactics include expanding fundraising, increasing legacy giving through the Sostenuto program, nurturing high-value donors, significantly growing small and first-time donors, recruiting new Trustees, growing corporate sponsorships, increasing endowment funds to $500,000, maintaining $200,000 in discretionary funds, and formalizing the organizational structure and succession plans. 


  • Increasing diversity, equity, access and inclusion in the Singers.  Tactics include expanding the pool of artists and musicians of color that we hire, commissioning works from composers of color, building relationships with musicians of color through national organizations, identifying partnership opportunities within the Rhode Island community, building a repertoire which connects with larger DEAI themes, and improving Board diversity to be more reflective of the community we serve.


Success measures relate to balances in the  endowment and discretionary funds, In Harmony enrollment, the number of Singers, and concert attendance.


On motion made and seconded, the Board voted to approve the strategic plan.


Artistic Director’s Report:  Christine reported on the program for next year.  


  • Sunday, October 30: Haydn’s Creation, at Grace Church in Providence, with orchestra and professional soloists

  • Sunday, December 4: Messiah, with Christine conducting the RI Philharmonic

  • Saturday and Sunday, March 11 and 12, 2023: Duruflé Requiem with organ; Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb; and Nkeiru Okoye’s “Inside is What Remains." March 11 will be at Grace Church; the location of the March 12 concert has not yet been established

  • Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6, 2023: Verdi Requiem with Rhode Island Philharmonic


For several reasons, we are delaying by one year performing Dave Brubeck’s The Gates of Justice and a composition by Quenton Xavier Blache.  One reason is that the selection of a Maya Angelou text ran into copyright difficulties, so they are searching for a new text.


Mike Carnarole has accepted the position as director of the In Harmony program and Luna Abreu-Santana will be assistant conductor.  With their backgrounds and skills, Christine considers them the dream team for inaugurating the In Harmony program.


Singers membership remains strong and we were supplemented in the Beethoven Ninth by guest singers, and Christine is confident we can attract guests for the Verdi Requiem.  The tenor choral scholars have also been valuable and she plans to have two for next year.


Two long-time singers retired after the Beethoven concert.  Betsy Dietrich has been a member for 29 years and has been our archivist for many years.  Martha Nielson has been a member for 43 years and served as alto section leader.  Christine nominated them as Providence Singers Emeritae, and on motion made and seconded, the Board approved their appointment.


Four Trustees are leaving the Board at the end of this year, and Governance Committee Chair Suzanne Nassise presented the names of four prospective Board members: Lori Andrews, Kyleen Carpenter, Terry Karaniuk, and Allison Picard.  Their biographies were previously circulated to Trustees.  On motion made and seconded, the four candidates were approved for the Board.  Suzanne also presented the slate of officers for next year:  Josh as Chair, Mell Roca as Chair-Elect, Jim Burress as Treasurer, and Brad Louison as Secretary.  On motion made and seconded, the slate of officers was approved.


The pros and cons of recruiting Board members from outside the Providence area was briefly discussed but no decisions were made. 


Personnel Committee Chair Mell Roca thanked Elaine, Christine, Josh and Beth Zarlengo for their help in staying on top of the Singers’ response to the pandemic.  


Budget & Finance Committee Chairman Dan Hendricksen presented the FY23 budget.  Among the highlights Dan discussed:


  • The budget is balanced.

  • Revenue is budgeted based on historical data.

  • The In Harmony budget is separate from the Providence Singers budget, with no commingling of revenue or expenses.

  • An administrative assistant for Elaine has been budgeted for 10 hours a week at $14,000 a year, freeing her up for fundraising.

  • Two choral scholars are budgeted.

  • Member dues will remain at $150, but there will be a $250 member level which will include a $100 contribution. 

  • Professional development funds are reduced to $200 from $2,000

  • There are no funds for recording or photographing the fall or spring concerts or for post-concert receptions.


After discussion, on motion made and seconded, the budget was approved.  


Resource Development Committee Chair Jen Faria discussed the many items already donated for the on-line auction.  The challenge will be to get the word out about the auction, which will be available on June 1.


Executive Director’s report:  Elaine reported on the results of the member survey, which contained four questions:  What do you like about the Providence Singers; what could be improved and why; what would we do differently to attract other good singers; and what could we do to make new members feel more welcome.  


The 35 respondents talked about their enjoyment of the music we perform and of Christine.  Singing with the Philharmonic was also important to respondents.  On improvements, 16 people commented that they wanted more opportunities for social interaction with other singers.  Seven wanted more practice aids, particularly for new music, and five wanted the opportunity to drill their separate parts. Diversity, equity, access and inclusion were important goals for some members.  The strenuous nature of the past year with frequent concerts was also mentioned by some, and more relaxed concert dress attire was suggested.  To attract other good quality singers, some suggested marketing to local schools and some suggested the opportunity to audit rehearsals.  To make members more welcome, more social events, singing in mixed formation and a buddy system were suggested – but some members said they felt very welcomed when they joined.  A new member who is associated with LinkedIn will work with Elaine to identify people on the site within 25 miles of East Providence who have expressed an interest in choral music.  


The Board voted to go into executive session, and then voted to adjourn.


Respectfully submitted,

Jim Burress, Secretary

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