As many of you know, I have long been an ardent supporter of the Mountain Arts Community Center (MACC). My son attended Signal Mountain Elementary School in its last year as a 1st grader in Mrs. Joan Barnes class. When I heard of the idea of turning it into an arts center, I thought it was a great idea. I did my small part by holding several benefit concerts with my band, Orchard Blend in the auditorium, donating all proceeds to the MACC.
I got to know Karen Shropshire, the first director of the MACC and was proud to consider her a friend. She and I had many long conversations about the future and her dreams for the MACC. When she retired in 2009, I told her "Well, Moses never got to the promised land, but they'd have never made it without him". Sadly, my comments were more prophetic than I knew when Karen passed away this past January. I truly believe that without Karen Shropshire's dedication and commitment the MACC would probably not exist today.
When I was elected to the Town Council, I was appointed liaison to the MACC Board. There is some confusion about the entire structure of the MACC. While the building was initially leased to the town, the management has always been a town department. One major goal of mine was to obtain ownership of the building and in 2009, the building was donated to the Town of Signal Mountain by the Hamilton County Board of Education through the good services of our school board member, Chip Baker. The MACC Board is appointed by the Town Council to advise the Council on the needs of the MACC and to work with the director and town management on the mission of the MACC.
The MACC Foundation was started in the last year, but was a direct descendant of Friends of the MACC (FOMACC) which was the organization which originally advocated for and supported the MACC. It is a private organization that exists solely to support the MACC. It has been a source of volunteers for many MACC activities and also has contributed small amounts of funds over the years for needs ranging from pianos to postage and repair work! As the MACC came under town ownership, the FOMACC decided to focus on fundraising and evolved into the MACC Foundation. As part of this process, the Foundation hired a part-time consultant to advise the organization on the whole process of forming a Foundation. This consultant, Patrick Emanuel had done much work with hospital foundations in Mississippi before moving to Signal Mountain approximately two years ago to be nearer to his family in the area. In addition to advising the Foundation Board on how to raise funds, Patrick was also hired as an "operational consultant" to perform many of the day-to-day activities of the Foundation. There has recently been some controversy about Patrick, mostly due to misunderstanding about his role and responsibilities by some Town Council members. His contract currently pays him for four hours per week, however I can tell you all from personal experience that he puts in many, many more hours than this. As a volunteer board member with a family and a full-time job, I can tell you that I couldn't begin to keep up with the amount of work he does. Many of the board members are, like me working people and several of them are business owners. Without someone to do the day-to-day activities of the Foundation, I don't believe we could successfully function.
Last summer, as I was deciding where I would like to continue to serve the town, I met Patrick and learned about the plans of the Foundation. I had known this was a direction they were working towards over the last few years and had encouraged them to do this. I also got to know John and Buffie Harper better. I knew them from church and had played some guitar with John in our church group, but as I learned more about their philanthropic work, I realized what a great asset to the Foundation they were. I had previously gotten to know Barb Storm, the new director of the MACC and was very impressed with her skills and passion. Finally, I encouraged and supported Dick Gee and Bill Wallace, both members of the MACC Board at the time to run for the Town Council. With their election, I felt like there was a great team in place to further the vision of the MACC and I decided to jump on board. Over the last 9 months, the MACC Foundation board has markedly expanded and attracted considerable talent and experience to further its mission.
I'm very excited about the future. We have several "visioning" sessions planned to seek input from community members, one of which I will be moderating on March 10 from 10am-12noon at the MACC. The other two are on March 15 and 19 with details at the MACC's website at: http://signalmountainmacc.org/. I encourage everyone to come and contribute your views to the future of this great addition to our community.