From the beginning, the Teton Photography Group recognized the need for strategic partnerships to become a viable, long-term organization in the greater Teton region. Discussions with established photographers, community and organization leaders, and existing ‘brick and mortar’ institutions helped us to understand why previous photography ‘clubs’ had struggled and ultimately failed. We explored many partnerships with existing not-for-profit organizations in the area with a goal of avoiding the expense and time needed to become an independent organization with federal 501(c)3 tax status and to acquire a stable venue for our meetings and programs. These discussions all pointed to an obvious and critical partnership with the Art Association of Jackson Hole.
The AAJH is a stable, 50-year old organization that has been the community leader supporting the arts in all forms. They have strong community support, a proven financial base, and a versatile and flexible location that can support activities from small group meetings to large educational programs. They also have a well-established communication and community education history. In a word, the AAJH is a perfect partner for the TPG.
Over the past six months the AAJH has hosted our monthly public presentations, planning and organizational meetings, and our first large educational symposium. They have provided infrastructure, staff, equipment and supplies, and communications to support our activities. They serve as our bank and financial resource to help us pay our bills. Our partnership sounds good, but over the last month, it has changed – for the better.
Detailed planning for our first Outdoor Photography Symposium exposed some issues with the infrastructure of both organizations and the AAJH immediately stepped up to the plate to address these issues in a very positive way. We have had discussions about the computer equipment and software in the photography lab and the AAJH developed a plan to update hardware and software to a state-of-the-art system that will better serve their educational programs and the needs of our members. The AAJH has carefully listened to the TPG needs for improved video projection and audio systems for large programs. They have found methods to meet our short-term needs and expand their long-term capabilities. We have had discussions about the AAJH membership database that will better support partnering organizations with their communication and financial needs. But more important and longer lasting changes have also begun.
We have entered in strategic planning initiatives with the AAJH that will help optimize community educational goals of both organizations by streamlining and coordinating our respective programs. This will be evident in the new AAJH catalog to be released this winter. There will be expanded coverage of the TPG programs and marketing and promotion for our major educational activities. This will start with the support of two new educational symposia in February and April. Based upon the feedback from members and attendees of our first symposium, we will present a more basic and a more advanced symposium this winter and spring. The basic symposium will address introductory issues of how to make better images with dSLR cameras. The advanced symposium will explore the details of post-processing image editing software. Additionally, the AAJH has committed to support for our monthly public presentations scheduled on the third Monday of every month. We have a plan to expand the breadth of the photographic subjects presented and expand our membership using resources of the AAJH. We hope that these initiatives will allow the TPG to explore cutting-edge introductory programs that will lead to expanded educational classroom activities from the AAJH.
Our partnership with the Art Association of Jackson Hole has been a win-win proposition for photographers in the region. The membership in the TPG has grown steadily from about a dozen last April to more than 150 in October. The partnership is stronger than ever and I hope that every member of the TPG will support the AAJH by becoming a supporting member – only $35 per year – for full membership and all of the benefits provided by the Association as well as full privileges of the TPG. It is a win for art and photographers in the region, the community, and you as someone who wants to improve photography as an art through education and networking.