Buoyed by corporate sponsorships and successful fundraising efforts, the financial outlook for this year’s JACL National Convention looks bright.
By P.C. Staff
The JACL National Board convened Feb. 7 in San Francisco at its national headquarters for its final meeting before heading into this year’s annual convention in Las Vegas, Nev.
Thanks in part to successful sponsorships and fundraising efforts to date, the upcoming National Convention, set for July 13-15 at the Monte Carlo Hotel, has already earned enough revenue to sustain itself.
“It’s looking really good,” said Toshiko Hasegawa, JACL fund development manager, of the chapter ads and convention partnerships secured thus far. “I’m getting updated numbers as more are trickling in, and I’m expecting the ads to continue to come through.”
Major sponsors include AARP, Comcast NBC Universal, JA Health Insurance Services, Southwest Airlines and State Farm.
The National Board also discussed the events surrounding last month’s conflict over a sale of the largest collection of Japanese American incarceration camp art. Rago Arts and Auction Center in New Jersey and collection seller John Ryan pulled the sale after mounting pressure and protest from the Japanese American community. Curator and folk-art collector Allen Hendershott Eaton began accumulating the 450 pieces of art during his tour of the incarceration camps during World War II as part of an exhibit he had hoped to display in conjunction with his book, “Beauty Behind Barbed Wire: The Arts of the Japanese in Our War Relocation Camps.”
“What we should do now as a board is find a way to better act on movements like these,” urged Toshi Abe, vp of membership. Abe was instrumental during the protests and was featured in several news outlets, including a New York Times announcement about the Rago Auction’s halt of the sale.
At the time of the protests, the JACL National Board, communicating through email exchanges and phone conferences, was unable to respond to the large outcry as fast as members would’ve wanted.
JACL Executive Director Priscilla Ouchida released a statement after the sale was removed, but was unable to do so during the protests.
“Historical preservation is part of our action,” Ouchida shared with the board. “What I saw was that we tried to take action on a very specific thing, and I was never allowed to intervene.” Currently, the executive director does not have the authority to move forward on behalf of the JACL without unanimous agreement from the National Board.
“Being absent was a statement,” Ouchida said. “We need some kind of resolution that would act under the Program of Action.”
JACL also did not respond to the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation civil action complaint against Rago Arts. The complaint was released publicly but was never officially filed.
A JACL committee is expected to form in order to draft a resolution that would allow the executive director the power to intervene on behalf of the board. Details of the resolution’s specifics are expected to be released before the National Convention, where it will be put to the National Council for approval.
“The events surrounding the auction exposed some of the processes that we need to address and change,” JACL National President David Lin said. “We didn’t do as well, and we could’ve done better. As a board, we can institutionalize better steps in preparing for future matters like this.”
Special acknowledgement was given to NCWNP Regional Director Patty Wada and Abe for their work and dedication in handling the in-pouring of media inquiries and community action concerning the auction.
Ouchida’s report also included a push to remove California’s AB 246 legislation, which will amend the existing hate crime law for peace officers.
Other efforts from the national office include the Schatz Resolution concerning the National Museum of American People and native Hawaiian colonists, the “Find Your Park” campaign, changes in the travel reimbursement policy for staff and officials and a resolution for new account signatories.