Re: ambitious SF Cinematheque membership drive (was Re: volunteering in San Francisco)

From: Jonathan Marlow (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Oct 24 2008 - 13:21:33 PDT

Due to my present remote location, I have written privately to Eric.
Since I am certain that many of you will want to see where this
discussion leads, I will have a public reply tomorrow morning. I take
his concerns quite seriously and, as such, these issues deserve a
thoughtful response.

I mention this largely to discourage additional folks from asking me
about it! Thanks for your concerns, none-the-less.

Jonathan Marlow

SAN FRANCISCO CINEMATHEQUE 145 Ninth St. Suite 240 San Francisco, CA 94103

On 10/24/08, Eric S. Theise <email suppressed> wrote:
> Lawrence Daressa writes:
>> The San Francisco Cinematheque
>> presents two seasons of experimental moving image art each year. We are
>> now gearing up for our 50th anniversary year in 2011 and are conducting
>> ambitious membership and donor drives.
> Dear Lawrence (and Jonathan),
> I alluded to this in my previous frameworks message to Esperanza,
> but I marked your earlier message as something to come back to and
> this seems like the opportune time.
> Towards the end of *my* term on the SF Cinematheque Board, we
> conducted an ambitious membership and donor drive, and to kick it
> off, I became a Lifetime Member, to the tune of $1500. The
> Cinematheque was a formidable organization in those days, we were
> going through the National Endowment for the Arts' Advancement
> Program, and our consultants drilled it into our heads that Board
> Members needed to put their wallets where their mouths were. I
> did, and, while not many others did, I do know that I am not the
> only person who joined at that level.
> As is typical with these things, that category was supposed to
> include the benefits of less expensive categories, and to them it
> added the benefit of receiving a copy of every SF Cinematheque
> publication, upon publication. While the organization was always
> lax about mailing these, I used to attend a third or more of the
> programs on the calendar and Steve Anker would always ask if I had
> one of everything on the table that was set up for ticket and
> publication sales.
> When the organization passed from Steve Anker to Steves Jenkins and
> Polta, this benefit came under suspicion, then disappeared. After
> nine months of pestering, a filthy envelope with my name misspelled
> turned up containing the then backlog of publications. I have not
> pestered since--why go through the humiliation?--and of course, no
> publications have been sent. That was in 2004; I haven't attended
> a show since, and, really, damn your eyes, San Francisco Cinematheque.
> Our Advancement consultants told us another obvious truth: go out
> of your way to treat your major donors well. Let them know if
> there's a screening they'd be interested in (which implies knowing
> or keeping a database of their interests) or invite them to a meal
> or after-screening drink with a visiting filmmaker. Cinematheque
> could never manage that level of grace, but clearly treating a donor
> like a chiseler when all they're asking for is the benefits associated
> with their level of membership fully flies in the face of any sane
> behavior as regards fundraising and development.
> Please treat this email as a request* for a full refund of my
> membership dues. I'll follow this up with a letter to the office
> containing my membership card (I will miss the sideways '8' for
> infinity, typed by David Gerstein on an old selectric long ago).
> All that said, it would be a happy day if the new ED can get the
> organization back on track. I had three motivations for moving to
> San Francisco in 1989: the landscape, the tolerance, and the film
> culture, which the Cinematheque of that time epitomized for me.
> --Eric
> P.S. I post this to frameworks a) so that all the filmmakers who
> have asked what my issues with the Cinematheque are can know the
> most cut-and-dry one, b) to provide an example for people who wonder
> why organizations lose the support of individuals and grantmaking
> organizations (e.g., the recent Film Arts Foundation discussion),
> and c) maybe so that other media arts organizations might hop on
> the phone and give a little love to their major benefactors; can't
> hurt!
> *demand.
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.