11/11/09 – SOON Press Release

Save Our Orchestra Now
POB 376
Ashland, NH 03217

CONTACT: Gene Bishop (603) 536-2291


Annual Givers Would Be Removed from Say on Board and in By-Laws


Plymouth, NH:  SOON, the citizens’ organization formed to protect the NH Music Festival has issued the following statement concerning the NH Music Festival’s Board of Directors announcement that it is proposing to remove funders from the organizations decision making role. The proposed change is found in a proposed By-Law amendment that is being offered by the Board at the upcoming Incorporators meeting on November 18, 2009.

This is indeed disappointing news and we urge current Incorporators to oppose the By-Law change. Under the current model, which has been in place for many, many years, the Incorporators, made up of all individuals who contribute to the Festival’s annual fund, are given the duty to elect Board members, approve By-Law changes and generally be engaged in the operations of the organization. Under the proposed change, Incorporators can only be appointed by the Board, and will be relegated to a ceremonial role and be removed from any formal function in the Festival’s operating structure and long term mission.

Further, under the amended By-Laws, only Board Members can nominate and vote for the election of Board Members.  The Articles of Agreement for the Corporation go on to state that the only persons who have governance authority or control over the Corporation are the Board of Directors.

This move, to make the Board totally insular and unaccountable to the audience and financial supporters could not come at a more unfortunate time.  The Festival management is proposing a set of wholesale changes in the organization’s corporate structure.  They are also preparing for a major Capital fundraising campaign while promoting a radical set of changes to the Festival’s musical style and performances. This is exactly the time that the Board should be seeking more input from its constituency, not less.

There is no doubt that recent actions by the Festival’s management have invited criticism and expressions of concern. It is shocking to see that their reaction is to dodge public review rather than engage the audience and public in a more robust level of participation in the oversight of the Board.

It is especially disappointing that the Festival began a solicitation mailing this week, asking folks to contribute to the Annual Fund without informing potential donors of their proposed diminished role regarding the future of the Festival.

Attached are copies of the proposed By-Law changes and of the existing sections of the Festival’s By-Laws for comparison.