Big Thanks – a message from former president Zak Pleet

Some of you may remember my “End of Year Review” that I made early in the summer, recounting our fantastic season and the many exciting projects we had on the horizon. Now, it is my absolute pleasure to say that this little report, should stand as a notice to let you know the full scoop of what we were up to, and what we’ve been up to since.

In the summer, we launched a couple of new projects: our first ever composition competition, the Ottawa Guitar Orchestra, and our first ever Annual Membership Drive. These projects came on-top of our already existing mainstays, such as our Young-Artist Series, our headlining Concert Series, the recently developed Open-Mic, Members Concerts/Workshops. Our view, is that we were finally developing the type of social and opportunistic programs that our membership, and our city needed.

These new initiatives have really taken off, the Guitar Orchestra is in full swing with more members then we anticipated, and the Composition Competition is days away from ending; meaning you still have time to apply!

In the eyes of a non-profit, perhaps even more so than concert attendance or other visual signs, a great indicator of how the organization is doing is simply through membership. Over the past few years, membership had actually dropped to the point where we started this past season in the single digits in terms of registered members. Perhaps in one of the proudest moments I had as President of the OGS, I am absolutely enthused to say, that at the end of our Membership drive, and subsequent weeks since, we have actually more than TRIPLED membership from this time last year….that’s right, TRIPLED!!!!

Without a doubt, the OGS is now headed in the right direction according to the response from our strong support from our members, and a renewed interest in our activities from the community.

Despite all of these achievements, it was time in my personal life where I made a decision to revisit living in Spain. Perhaps it was that day of 58 centimeters of snow last winter, or the subsequent days of -40 afterwards, but I found a visa program that allowed me to return…..and skip the winter altogether! Perhaps it is a little bittersweet, as I am envious of the projects, initiatives, personnel, and concerts being put on in Ottawa and I would love to be a part of all of it!

So in the meantime, I must express a heartfelt thank you to the OGS members and the Board Members that thought I could fill the role of President.

It was an eye opening experience for me; both in how a non-profit functions, and how many people resonant with an artistic message. The chance to fill the role of President was not something I expected to do, and looking back it looks like it worked!

We were able to expand an array of programs, from Open-Mics, Young Artist Concerts, and introduce new programs such as our composition competition and the Ottawa Guitar Orchestra. While these seem small, or even trivial at times, each one of these activities result in a new, or renewed interest in our activities and help spread our message of the love of our instrument further.

Perhaps just as importantly, each one of these endevours requires a countless amount of time and thought from organizers, and these ambitious projects and concepts would not be possible without passionate and dedicated individuals.

As well, this experience allowed me the opportunity to communicate with other passionate guitar enthusiasts and organizers not only in Canada, but in the US as well. By doing this, the OGS was able to gain insight into how we can better operate and as well gain ideas from what others are doing successfully. Personally, this opened the door for me to get to know a few people outside of my normal circle much better, and for this this experience I am extremely grateful.

Moving forward, I cannot think of a better person to take over the helm of the OGS than Louis. For as long as I’ve known Louis, he’s maintained a youthful jubilation for the guitar; which I can honestly may be unrivaled. Not only is his positivity and outlook for the instrument absolutely incredible, but he’s also an easy guy to approach and talk to. Louis, alongside the rest of the executives and the board should make a formidable group of people ready to take our passionate message of spreading the classical guitar around Ottawa to the next step; and see to it that it’s done right!

– Zak

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