The Association of Northwest Weavers' Guilds (ANWG) supports weavers in the Northwest

The seed for the development of Association of Northwest Weavers' Guilds was sown in 1957 when the Seattle Weavers' Guild, under the leadership of Virginia Harvey, held the first conference for weavers of the Northwest. In 1965 a second conference was held in Portland. Two years later Inland Empire Handweavers hosted the conference in Spokane, and the biennial schedule has been followed since.

Following Seattle's second conference in 1969, a small group of active weavers from Washington and Oregon gathered in Seattle with the intention of forming a non-dues paying Association to promote and perpetuate the conferences. As the Association continued to take form and grow, minimal dues were assessed, a newsletter started, non-profit status achieved and a web site was begun. Membership is open to any guild within our geographic area. Individual memberships are not accepted.

The Seattle Weavers' Guild held the first conference for weavers of the Northwest in 1957. In 1965 a second conference was held in Portland. Two years later Inland Empire Handweavers hosted the conference in Spokane and the biennial schedule has been followed since.

Every attempt is made to stage the conferences around the region on a rotating basis so that every guild member can have a reasonable expectation of a conference being offered somewhere near their home at some time. Each conference, while containing the major elements common to all conferences, emphasizes the sharing in the comradery and enthusiasm of those with a common love of the textile arts, and reflects the unique nature of that location. This sometimes includes community activities or cultural events which will enhance the conference experience or provide some diversion for family members or traveling companions who are not registered for conference activities.

As of 2006 the legal status of the Organization is in question, due to the revocation of changes made to the manner in which the ANWG conferences are administered. The institutional safeguards of minimal Board oversight of bank accounts, contract review and approval, the filing of appropriate state and federal reports and other standard accounting practices have been abandoned, leaving the individual volunteers to bear the liability of financial and legal exposure.

A Brief History of ANWG

The Association of Northwest Weavers Guilds grew out of a series of gatherings, the first of which was organized by Virginia Harvey in 1956. The next one was in 1965, and a conference has been conducted biennially since.

ANWG was incorporated in 1979 and obtained tax-exempt status in 1986. The organization operates totally on volunteer labor, and incorporation protects these individuals, both board and non-board, from possible personal liabilities such as contractual and accounting obligations and taxation on profits or payment of losses incurred in the course of conducting the conferences.

In 2001 the ANWG Board was made aware that the arrangement of sponsor and host guilds amounted to a joint venture between two (or possibly more) legal entities, and that the gross revenues were required to be reported either by ANWG or the host guilds. A legal consultant was hired and an investigation into the organization's practices was launched in 2001, whereupon it was discovered that continuation of this practice would amount to a lapse in compliance with 501(c)(3) regulations, and the possible loss of non-profit status. The Board adopted the policy that ANWG would always report the conference gross revenues, thereby solving the problem of how the host guilds as defined in the bylaws could account for the conference revenues if they did not have non-profit status, such as those in Canada. The consultation in turn brought about the necessity of a comprehensive examination of the Bylaws.

The entire 1999-2001 Board participated in a complete review and revision of the Bylaws under the direction of the legal consultant, and unanimously recommended adoption by the membership in 2001. One of the changes approved was the transfer of authority to amend the bylaws from the membership to the Board, with the exception of Article II., Membership Terms.

After the adoption in June, 2001, two comprehensive review periods were provided to the membership, one throughout 2001-02 and another in 2002-03. Meanwhile, the Board presented the membership at the June, 2002 AGM with an amendment to Article V. whereby the joint venture model of sponsor and host guild was eliminated in favor of the conference committees operating as a part of the structure of ANWG. In May and June, 2003, the bylaws as a whole were updated to reflect this change, and, as per the past recommendation of the membership, Article VIII. was amended to return full authority to the membership.

The 2003 election resulted in an almost entire turn-over of Board members. Several of those who assumed office had previously expressed a desire to see the Bylaw amendment authority returned to the membership. In the Special Summer and Fall 2003 issues of the Northwest News the Board announced that the membership had rejected the amendment of Article VIII. and authority was still retained by the Board. In addition, the bylaws were so confusing as to necessitate a complete revision, this time under the direction of one Director and two individuals (all Seattle Guild members).

The Seattle-based Bylaw Review Committee delivered a set of proposed bylaws and Standing Rules to the membership for review until January 30, 2005. At the time, the Board gave notice that acceptance of some of the proposals would necessitate modifications to the Articles of Incorporation but these were not be presented until the call for adoption.

A version of the Bylaws and Standing Rules were created from this review in the spring of 2005 to be presented for membership approval at the AGM at the end of the ANWG 2005 conference"Color Me, Colour You" on August 7, 2005. However, these proposed bylaws were held off from adoption until the 2006 AGM due to several conflicting sections between the two documents. During this time the 2005 conference was conducted under the terms of the 2003 bylaws wherein the conferences were defined as an ANWG activity.

UPDATE: November 2006

Early in 2006 another set of revised Bylaws and Rules of Order were presented to the membership. It was unclear who exactly had compiled the set of documents, whether or not the Board had reviewed and approved said documents, or whether there had been any outside legal input or review. These Bylaws were subsequently approved by the membership at the 2006 AGM.

Because the "Color Me, Colour You" conference was administered under the 2003 Bylaws (wherein the Conference Chair from the local hosting guild, the Tacoma Handweavers, served on the ANWG board) the conference was an ANWG activity. Several months after the conference, a profit of some $22,000 was reported to have been made, with the host guild retaining none of the proceeds. However, the 2007 conference terms were agreed on by the same Boardusing instead the historical sponsor/host "joint venture" model, in apparent violation of those Bylaws.

This most recent version of the Bylaws does nothing to resolve the troubled and convoluted history of the conferences and Bylaws. Not only have they added a layer of "Standing Rules" which are of questionable utility, the bylaws themselves contain provisions which have been studied and corrected in past revisions because of proven pit-falls, the most prominent of which was the historical practice of the conference organizers being handed "control" of the planning and finances with no institutional safeguards shielding either the ANWG or guild boards or conference volunteers from exposure to the liabilities of signing contracts, obtaining insurance or reporting the activity to the requisite state and federal agencies. The host guild-appointed conference Chair can "voluntarily" attend ANWG board meetings and report to the ANWG board, but no provisions have been made for any member of the ANWG board to attend meetings of either the conference committee or the host guild. In short, the conference committees are once again expected to assume a level of autonomy which does not exist in either the real world of standard accounting or administrative practices. resulting in a high level of exposure for the volunteers of both organizations.

UPDATE: August 2009

In the ensuing years since the last update of the Association of Northwest Weaving Guilds website, two conferences have been conducted, one in Red Deer, Alberta by HWSDA (Handweavers, Spinners and Dyers of Alberta) in 2007, and in Spokane, Washington in 2009 for which the President of ANWG also functioned as the Conference Chair.

The 2011 conference is to be sponsored by the Weaving Guilds of Oregon (WeGO) in Salem, OR. The current President and 1st Vice President of ANWG are members of WeGO. As sponsors of the 1991 and 2001 ANWG conferences WeGO filed 990 forms after each conference, after negotiations between WeGO and ANWG. The question of "who owns the conferences" will likely be answered within the next 12 months given that the IRS reporting regulations were changed as follows:

"The Pension Protection Act of 2006 requires the IRS to revoke the tax exemption of any nonprofit that fails to file a return for three years in a row for tax years beginning Jan. 1, 2007. Thus, in May 2010, nonprofits that have failed to file Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF, or 990-N for three consecutive years will begin losing their tax-exempt status.
"To regain their exemptions, such organizations will have to apply using Form 1023, “Application for Recognition of Exemption,’ or Form 1024, “Application for Exemption under Section 501(a)."

To date, there is no evidence that either the Spokane Handweavers Guild nor ANWG has yet filed a form 990 for any year previous or after 2007. It would be prudent for all ANWG members to monitor both the individual member guilds and ANWG itself for news that the non-profit status has been revoked. Lastly, according to the notice of proposed changes to the Standing Rules as printed in the "Early Spring 2009 Northwest News" prior to the Annual General Membership meeting, the the ANWG Executive Board has decided for itself that electronic meetings are a legally acceptable means of meeting, despite Washington state law stating clearly that only physical or telephonic meetings are recognized as constituting legal meetings. RCWs Title 24 Chapter 24.03 Section 24.03.120 - Place and notice of directors' meetings.