A Letter to USA Dance Minnesota Chapter Members
By Nels Petersen
Dear USA Dance Minnesota Chapter Members,
The chapter board elections are at hand, and I am writing you to encourage you to vote in this election. You have a ballot by now. Please be mindful of the unusual print at the bottom of the ballot.
From my twenty-six-year perspective, I believe the last twelve months have been a disaster for our chapter due to the choices of the current executive committee members:
- Attendance at social dances has declined by 30%.
- Attendance at Project Dance has declined by 40%.
- Sponsorship of collegiate groups has declined 79%.
- Star of the North 2014 was canceled, with no replacement planned.
- The newsletter was canceled and replaced by a biased coverage piece that distributes less than 1% of the former twenty-two-year publication.
- All major sponsors in the chapter’s history and a majority of key volunteers have been lost.
- The chapter is on track to lose $10,000 and take in half as much revenue as previous years.
The slim majority board explanation to date for these declines has been that a divide between collegiate dancers and adults, or social dancers and competitors, is to blame. That’s simply false. Average monthly attendance has declined by twice as many adult dancers as student dancers. Project Dance is comprised of social dancing adults, and has no significant competitor or student contingent. How can a 40% decline be attributed to groups that aren’t even involved? From a peak of over two hundred participants a week to fewer than twenty at present—this clearly doesn’t match their explanation.
Ultimately, the board of USA Dance Minnesota is responsible for ensuring that the chapter is on a good path. However good their intentions, the current executive committee has taken the chapter on an unsustainable path that has resulted in damage and decline. I believe that Ed Soltis (spouse of vice president Bonnie Burton), Leland Whitney, and Leslie Whitney have demonstrated that they do not possess the experience or managerial skills necessary to correct these declines. I encourage you to look at the facts and decide whether this chapter deserves two more years of the current direction.
This year, the chapter is fortunate to have a group of individuals running who have almost a century of combined experience. They represent social dancers, competitive dancers, young dancers, and old dancers. They’ve been involved in many of the most successful periods of all initiatives the chapter has run in the last decade. They have the resources and competence to serve the community well. I strongly encourage you to read their backgrounds and emphatically endorse their candidacies. These candidates do not include Tom Crable, Dan Fitzpatrick, Leland Whitney, Leslie Whitney, or Ed Soltis. Please visit www.sheerdance.com for an A-list of possible candidates.
Let’s vote for a bright dancing future and a fun, good, progressive, and well-managed chapter.