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Lowell Folk Festival

Council Basics

Membership

Local Cultural Councils are administered by volunteers from the community who have an interest in supporting the arts, humanities, and sciences. The more diverse its membership, the better an LCC can serve their community.

Membership details must be updated on the grants management system each time a new member joins the LCC to ensure they receive newsletters, announcements, and other updates about the LCC Program. Keep accurate records of appointment dates so new appointments can be made before the LCC falls below five members.

Membership Requirements

  • LCCs must have at least five members and no more than 22 members.
  • Members are appointed by the top appointing official in the community (i.e., the mayor, city manager, board of selectmen, or executive officer). All appointments must be recorded by the city or town clerk and include term dates.
    • The chief appointing authority, members of the local appropriating authority, and other elected public officials cannot serve as LCC members.
  • LCC members should have an interest in the arts, humanities, or sciences.
  • The term for an LCC member is three years; members can serve a maximum of two consecutive terms or a total of six years (unless the appointing authority removes a member before the expiration of a term).
    • After serving six years, members must remain off the LCC for a one-year interval before serving additional terms.
    • To preserve continuity of operations, the terms of individual LCC members should be staggered (that is, there should never be 100 percent turnover of members in a single year). LCCs may also elect to designate former officers or members as non-voting, ex-officio LCC members.
  • Each LCC must annually elect a chair, secretary, and treasurer.
  • State guidelines do not require that LCC members live in the town on whose LCC they serve, or that they are over 18 years of age. Some cities and towns, however, do have local residency or age requirements.
    • Check with your municipality about local requirements. Remember, members can recruit and make recommendations, but only the appropriate officials can appoint and swear-in new members.

Roles and Responsibilities

All new members are required to read the LCC Program Guidelines to ensure a basic understanding of the program’s requirements and grant making practices. Mass Cultural Council staff can also, when needed, schedule sessions with LCCs who need further orientation, as time and schedules allow.

LCC appointees must take the mandatory State ethics training that applies to all Local Cultural Council members as “special municipal employees” as defined by M.G.L. Chapter 10 Section 58. This training provides a general introduction to the conflict of interest law, including information on the requirements of the law that apply to former public employees. Upon appointment, and every two years thereafter, all current state, county, and municipal employees, including LCC members, must complete this training. (This is not a requirement of Mass Cultural Council. It is a requirement of the State Ethics Commission. Upon completing the training members should provide documentation directly to their appointing authority.

LCCs are guided, in part, by three annually-elected officers: a chair, treasurer and secretary. LCCs can share the work and leadership through a co-chair arrangement. All members can take responsibility for aspects of LCC operations. Sharing responsibility is the most effective way to ensure long-term stability of the LCC.

LCC tasks can be divided a variety of ways, depending on the number of LCC members, individual skills and interests, and available time. Some LCCs choose to elect members to serve in other roles, such as publicist, school liaison, grants coordinator, etc., to further delegate tasks.

LCCs can develop simple job descriptions for each officer or coordinator position. Job descriptions may clarify tasks and make best use of members’ limited time. Job descriptions can also help new members get informed and involved quickly. See Sample LCC Job Descriptions. A single job may be done by more than one person. Additionally, a detailed checklist of sample grant cycle assignments is available. Use it as is or adapt it to delegate and share tasks.

Tips for Recruitment

While the authority to appoint LCC members rests with the municipality, we encourage LCCs to see themselves as ambassadors in recruiting new members. LCC members should work closely with the municipal appointing authority to make sure that new members meet the needs of the LCC.

LCCs need to have at least 5 members but it is always better to have more (7-9 is a good number) in case one person needs to leave the LCC, then the LCC can still meet the minimum requirements.

LCC members should assess what current skills may be needed by the LCC and actively recruit members with those skills. Possible areas of recruitment:

  • Demonstrates competence with computers and the internet.
  • Demonstrates competence with finances.
  • Represents the diversity of the community.
  • Represents the artistic and cultural community in the city/town.

Before talking to a potential member:

  • Think about how to describe the LCC’s work, and why it is so important.
  • Keep in mind the things that drew current members to the LCC. They might be attractive to a potential member.
  • Identify some of the more important events and accomplishments the LCC has enjoyed.

Personal invitations can be a very successful way to recruit members:

  • Ask friends or acquaintances, especially those who have an interest in the cultural life of the community.
  • Attend a funded LCC project and talk to the people there about the LCC’s work.
  • Identify and invite an individual with a specific skill or expertise that is needed by the LCC such as financial accounting, publicity, web design, public advocacy, or event planning experience.
  • Ask past LCC applicants.
  • Contact local cultural organizations in your community.

Publicity and visibility strategies can be a great way to recruitment members:

  • Use local newspapers, cable access channels, radio, or locally-distributed publications to recruit volunteers.
  • Send a short press release or write a letter to the editor. See a sample press release to recruit new members.
  • Prepare LCC information and membership flyers and distribute them throughout the community and at cultural events.
  • Contact local businesses or corporations that might print notices in their in-house newsletters and/or post notices on their bulletin boards.
  • Chambers of commerce are good sources because they usually publish regular newsletters and have access to the business community.
  • Submit a notice to any town newsletters, city/town Facebook group or other places where residents get information such as web sites or online forums that post community news.
  • Attend a select board or city council meeting to talk about the LCC Program and its grantees and use the opportunity to announce the need for members.
  • Offer a brief presentation about the LCC at meetings of local clubs and organizations. Explain what the LCC does and express the need for new members.

Reach out to the following groups:

  • Local school or college/university art, science, or humanities teachers
  • Town conservation and planning commissions or revitalization committee
  • Local businesses
  • Religious groups and institutions
  • Cultural organizations
  • PTOs/PTAs
  • Senior citizen groups (Council on Aging, senior centers)
  • High schools or student groups
  • Organizations that represent people of color or specific ethnic groups (NAACP, Brazilian Association, etc.)
  • Organizations that represent people with disabilities (associations for the blind, associations for the deaf, local ARCs, centers for independent living, etc.)
  • Civic groups (Rotary, Lions, etc.)
  • Main Street organizations

Post a call for members with Massachusetts Service Alliance, an organization that connects volunteers with opportunities from across the state. LCCs may use this resource (via Mass Cultural Council’s agency profile) whenever they are seeking new members and can leave it up for one year. Get directions for creating a volunteer posting on the MSA web site.

Chair Transitions

Changing leadership can create challenges because it can be difficult to transfer the knowledge gained and relationships formed by the LCC Chair while in office. Chairs and other officers must have a good understanding of both state guidelines and council priorities, procedures, and legal requirements. Consider the following strategies to encourage members to serve as chair or in other leadership roles:

  • Avoid having the chair be responsible for most of the LCC’s work. Divide up tasks and create written descriptions as suggested previously.
  • Recruit a successor to the current chairperson one cycle before needed, as a co-chair, so they can “shadow” the chair during their last cycle.
  • Consider co-chairs who can share leadership and split the task of orienting and involving members in tasks.
  • Consider cycling the chair position annually. Many LCCs have found it helpful to elect a chair and co-chair for a year, after which the chair cycles off to become a regular member, the co-chair replaces the chair, and a new co-chair is elected. This helps make the chair position less intimidating and ensures that all LCC members are familiar with all aspects of LCC work.
  • Invite retired members to serve ex-officio and provide continuity as membership turns over. These members can support the work of the LCC but cannot discuss or vote on applications during their year off.
  • Keep files organized throughout the year so that volunteers assuming new roles and responsibilities will find the transition smooth and problem-free.
  • Annually review the LCC Program Guidelines with veteran members and newcomers alike. Include an orientation with a social component to make new people feel welcome and to build team spirit.

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