Foundersland: 2016 – Serving Our Students and Staff

By Marty Sklar, Founder, Past President, Chairman Leadership Council

As 2016 begins, it’s a time of transition for Ryman Arts. The best Boards of Directors, we are told by experts who study Board service, now operate with Term Limits for individual Board members. Ryman Arts has instituted that refinement.

What that means is that each year, a number of Trustees complete their term of service, and that number is replaced by new Board members. In round numbers that means that 20 to 25 percent of the Board annually “terms out,” and 75 to 80 percent continue on. “New blood” – hopefully with exciting new ideas and a desire to serve our students and staff -- join the Board each year. 

Ah, but there is a “catch” – those of us “leaving” are not going very far, because we are creating a new “Leadership Council” to augment the Board and expand our knowledge of, and support from, leaders of other organizations in  Southern California.

As I wrote in part in a letter to twenty or so of these leaders, inviting them to join our new Leadership Council and become “Ambassadors” for Ryman Arts and our programs, the goal of this group will be “to help us educate and influence even more young artistic talent by increasing our sphere of influence through networking with business, education and other arts organizations.”

To welcome and assimilate our new Council members, we are fortunate that four of us whose Board terms are now complete will also become members of the Leadership Council. Chuck Fry, our Vice-president, has joined me in forming the new organization; I will Chair the group, and I’m counting on Chuck to continue to provide the kind of ideas and dedication that have played a major role in our growth, especially in Orange County.

Chuck and Nancy Fry with Ryman Arts Alumnus Bryant Santamaria at RAWsalt gallery in Laguna Beach.


Joining Chuck and me as we leave the Board but continue our service are Bob Rogers, a Ryman Arts Board Member for thirteen years; and Jeff Ganter, completing his first term. I want to say a few words about the important service rendered by each of them.

Jeff Ganter has literally opened the doors to employment opportunities for a number of our students, by helping them organize and understand what employers are looking for in potential new hires – something Jeff understands so well as President of Eleventh Hour employment agency. Jeff also partnered with Board Member Barbara Jacobs in organizing our 25th Anniversary event at The Edison in downtown Los Angeles.

Jeff Ganter speaking at an alumni career workshop at his company, Eleventh Hour.


Bob Rogers, Chairman of BRC Imagination Arts, was recruited thirteen years ago by co-founders Harrison “Buzz” Price and me. We both had a long relationship with Bob through the amusement industry, and the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) where Bob has been a long-time leader. BRC has given our students tours of the company to provide insight into the industry, and has established an intern program specifically for Ryman Arts students.

Bob Rogers


Chuck Fry, President of Vista Communities, became a supporter of Ryman Arts through a pilot program we held years ago in Orange County. Today that humble beginning has become a full-fledged “second campus” for Ryman Arts at Cal State University Fullerton. Chuck’s wide knowledge of the arts in Orange County have brought us wonderful contacts with the “art community”, especially through several wonderful galleries in Laguna Beach.

Leah and myself at the 2015 Ryman Arts graduation.


As for me, I’m looking forward to a new challenge as Chairman of the Leadership Council. We have invited, and they have accepted, a terrific group of “Ambassadors” for this ad hoc group - meaning we can only advise and recommend to the Board itself. But the breadth of talent – from the arts, business, entertainment and education – who are joining us to participate is much more than gratifying. It’s another “endorsement” for the impact and importance of the program we started 25 years ago to honor the memory of quintessential Disney artist Herbert D. Ryman, and the motivation and example Herb Ryman provided for talented, passionate young artists.

All of us at Ryman Arts wish you a happy, peaceful, creative New Year in 2016!