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WOW won't continue to operate on 'shoestring'

Date: 2/3/2009

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD Westfield on Weekends (WOW) cannot continue to operate on a shoestring budget, according to the organization's officers.

At their annual meeting on Feb. 11, WOW will announce a new officer, directors and strategic plan, which calls for "new blood and perspective" that will bring the organization to the next level, according to WOW President Bob Plasse.

"We help to enhance a vibrant community by bringing all stripes of people together," he said in an interview with Reminder Publications.

"Our mission is to enhance the quality of community and life in Westfield and in order to do that we want to put together a number of quality events [during WinterGreen Days, Good Old Summer Times, Colonial Harvest Day and Dickens Days, but we need to] have sufficient funds," WOW Clerk Christopher Lindquist, said.

Plasse explained that new board members such as Treasurer Barbara Trant will ensure that WOW continues to evolve as a sturdy outlet for culture and the arts.

Lindquist said new and tenured members will be focusing on fundraising and membership campaigns in order to support the organization's seasonal calendar of events.

He noted that WOW has approximately $5,000 for programming funds but at least that and more is needed for any event series. Lindquist explained that WOW will be writing grants and looking for alternative funding sources throughout the year.

"We are volunteers doing as much as we can," he said, adding that new members are always welcome to help.

Trant explained that she plans to use her experience as former treasurer of the Westfield Arts Council to aid WOW in their fundraising efforts and monitoring spending.

She noted that the board is considering offering paid subscriptions that will allow members to enter WOW's paid events for free.

"We will always keep most of our events free and open to the public but we also realize that we will need some events that are ticketed to help us to reach those financial goals that we need [to survive]," Plasse said.

"I think it's really important to have community events where everyone gets to celebrate," he continued. "We recognize that in this trying financial time that our mandate has to be to make the arts and community activities accessible to as many people as possible."

Lindquist explained that other 2009 missions for WOW include "diversifying" the board of directors to include members of the city's Spanish and Russian-speaking communities as well as creating more events for kids and families.

"We want to make downtown Westfield a destination," he said.

Those wishing to learn more about WOW or to become a member are welcomed to attend the organization's annual meeting on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. in the Lang Auditorium at the Westfield Athenaeum.

Additional information may be obtained at WOW's Web site,