Youth Education in the Arts (YEA!) Board of Directors announces broad changes to its operating structure to stabilize the organization and position it for future growth.
“YEA! has recently completed an exhaustive financial audit and independent investigation of the operational elements of YEA! The results of this work have led the Board of Directors and senior management to make strategic changes and improvements to position YEA! for our next decade of growth and innovation,” said Vicki Ferrence Ray, Executive Director of YEA! (Ray, a Cadets alum, was hired as YEA! executive director in October following a four-month nationwide search.)
Part of these proactive changes will be a discontinuation of the Cadets2 program and a reduction by one-third of the YEA! staff in the Allentown, PA office. Additionally, there is an aggressive plan for reducing expenses, increasing efficiencies through technology and streamlined processes, and selling under-utilized assets. These actions create a more lean and agile organization that remains committed to providing a safe environment for all participants.
Operations for the 10-time World Champion Cadets drum and bugle corps, 30 year-old USBands scholastic service program, and the Xcape Dance Company remain unchanged.
“It is no secret that the financial position of YEA! has been adversely impacted by the events surrounding the former leadership of the organization,” said Ferrence Ray in acknowledging the circumstances that led to the change in leadership of YEA! earlier in 2018.
Last April we inherited an unclear picture of the true financial situation of YEA! In addition to the other existential issues the organization faced, which have been successfully addressed, YEA! leadership has spent the last six months working diligently to get a handle on the finances and to create a plan that would set us on a path to economic stability. What we know now is that on top of the financial shortfall we inherited, and with the increased expenses incurred dealing with the previous leadership’s actions including legal fees, training fees, reductions in sponsorship and USBands participation, we now find ourselves with an approximate $600,000 deficit.
The deficit is not insurmountable and represents only 10% of our total budget. We are confident that in the next 12-18 months we will be able to implement our plan to reduce this amount substantially and continue our mission of providing participants with wonderful programs and opportunities for the near and long term. We are committed to the Cadets as a highly competitive drum corps, even better USBands events and services, and Xcape Dance Company continuing to do great things with Allentown youth.
Doug Rutherford, YEA! Chair remarked, “To ensure we remain financially viable and true to our mission, we unfortunately have had to eliminate the Cadets2 drum corps and make staff cuts across the board. While no one ever wants to do these things, it is necessary for us to stay focused on our mission and be fiscally responsible.”
Ferrence Ray continued, “Our commitment to the members, educators, parents, supporters, and alumni remains steadfast. It is through proactive changes to improve our business practices that we will become more efficient and effective in delivering our mission of supporting the development of young people into magnificent human beings through participation in the arts.”
Regarding the suspension of the 2016 DCA World Champion Cadets2 drum and bugle corps program, Ferrence Ray said, “There are times when organizations need to take a step back in order to take two steps forward, and we are in that position with Cadets2. For the benefit of the young people throughout YEA! programs, it is best to end the Cadets2 program to strategically focus our resources. We are grateful for the leadership, staff, volunteers, parents, and most especially the members who have made the past seven years so remarkable for the unit which was formed in 2012 and went on to finish near the top of the competitive rankings each year.”
Ferrence Ray also commented on the importance of the vast network of support which is critical to the operations of YEA!, “We cannot thank our donors and sponsors enough. They expect their investment in the YEA! organization be well-managed and stewarded for intended outcomes and overall impact. We believe this renewed dedication to the long-term sustainability of the organization will bring our partners even closer as we share a commitment to serving young people long into the future.”
“We have a new phrase at YEA! that is ‘business better than usual’ and we’re sticking to it,” said Ferrence Ray. “This means the members of The Cadets, educators and students served by USBands, dancers with Xcape, and the thousands of students, educators, parents, alumni and supporters who have come to know YEA! for it’s commitment to young people will see an improvement above and beyond ‘business as usual’ among all facets of our operations beginning today and lasting long into the future.”