They've announced a partnership between the two organizations to help the film institute stabilize its finances and host the 21st annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival set for October 12 - 21.
The Chamber will provide office space for staff and volunteers of HSDFI free of charge for five years and also do bookkeeping for the organization. Dave Byerly, Chief Executive Officer of The Chamber, will also serve on the board of directors of HSDFI. Byerly said that the new partnership fits well with The Chamber's long-term strategic plan to strengthen arts and culture organizations to help foster and grow new industry, such as the film industry, in the area.
"The Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce recognizes the importance of strengthening arts and culture organizations to make the city a great place to work and live. The Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute has a long history of providing unique cultural experiences that attract tourists from around the globe to Hot Springs and that help develop the film industry. It would be a shame to lose this organization and The Chamber is here to do what it can to help," said Dave Byerly, CEO of The Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce.
Susan Altrui, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute, said that the partnership helps stabilize the organization and provide resources that have been desperately needed for some time.
"Having an office in The Chamber building means that we won't waste funds running utilities at the Malco and also means we have resources at our disposal to help with financial bookkeeping. HSDFI has lacked accountability and organization in its financial reporting and having The Chamber do bookkeeping for the institute will ensure the public and our donors and supporters that we're handling funds properly," said Altrui.
As part of the agreement, Altrui said that the institute will be working with The Chamber to develop financial reporting procedures that provide transparency into the day-to-day operations of the institute and help get the institute back on sound financial ground.
Altrui stressed that one of the major goals of getting the institute's financial house in order is to build confidence in donors that funds are being used appropriately. As a non-profit organization, HSDFI relies on charitable donations for its operation.
"As confidence in the leadership of the organization dwindled over the past few years, so did donations. If the organization is going to succeed it will have to be able to attract and keep donors," said Altrui.
A meet-n-greet reception with Courtney Pledger, the new director of this year's film festival, Susan Altrui, and the new board of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute will take place on Friday, August 3, at 5:30 p.m. as part of Gallery Walk at the Fine Arts Center of Hot Springs on Central Avenue. The public is invited to attend.
Background on the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute
The Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute is the only film institute in the country dedicated to the genre of documentary film. It is home to the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, the oldest documentary film festival in the country founded in 1991. Since its inception, more than 600,000 people have participated in the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute's educational, cultural activities and special programs. Emphasis is on documentary film as an art form as well as a means to promote critical thinking on real life issues. Through symposia, forums, discussion groups, and teaching, HSDFI brings cultural and social knowledge to all ages from the gifted work of film professionals.