I am pleased to report that SONA is very healthy. Since 2004 SONA has witnessed an incredible growth in activity, membership value, membership numbers, resources (including volunteer hours), executive coordination, and professionalism. SONA is now a much more confident and mature organisation (having turned ten in 2007).
2007 has been a big year. RAIA student membership is now at 2150, which is a record high and a 30 percent increase over two years. SuperStudio was consolidated in its second year as a national competition with almost 500 students and architects involved. SONA had a very large involvement in the RAIA National Conference, which included a record of more than 250 students attending.
The student congress in New Zealand was a success as were the many local events, including the Ten Days of Architecture to celebrate SONA’s birthday. SONA sponsored a revamped Advancement of Architecture Prize, and Design Build: PNG; continued to foster international networks; concluded an unprecedented advocacy campaign to extend youth allowance to Masters of Architecture students; and produced the hot ‘architects do it with models’ tshirts.
The good planning, coordination and hard work of the SONA team has been exemplary, and members have benefited from 2006 funding being spent on 2007 activities. We believe that 2007 level of activities should be sustained and built upon in future years.
SONA is about to enter its teenage years - and is experiencing a number of growing pains. SONA has reached its capacity limits. In fact SONA is delivering at way over capacity. We have made a number of breakthroughs in strategic thinking, which have unlocked all sorts of exciting possibilities for the future. However progress has been slow in developing the financial base required to realise this potential.
The 2006 Annual Report was rather critical of SONA’s sustainability as an organisation, outlining a number of challenges to future growth. SONA has been taking some steps to meet these challenges, but there is still much progress to be made.
The restructuring of executive terms and roles in 2006, along with better succession planning, have resulted in improved coordination of SONA activity and the building of momentum across years. Changes made in 2007 to make the budget more flexible and to delegate greater administrative responsibility are driving further innovation and efficiency.
Strategic focus since 2006 on delivering high quality national initiatives such as SuperStudio and terra has improved SONA’s branding through high visibility and by addressing core objectives such as strengthening studio culture, encouraging discourse and building relationships. Recent changes made to the way seed funding is used are intended to deliver a consistent level of local activities, and new programs are being developed to promote fundraising at a local level.
These developments have been very positive and have given SONA a strong platform to build off. However two large weaknesses remain that hold SONA back:
1.CommunicationsSONA is indebted to the strong leadership of the SONA National Committee guided by Past Presidents, including most recently Joshua Morrin and Jennifer van den Bussche, in taking us to this point at the end of 2007. We also acknowledge and extend our thanks to Bluescope Steel, and Fielders Steel Roofing who continue to be very large supporters of student activities.
Despite Pulse becoming a comprehensive monthly newsletter, communications with members remain woeful. SONA struggles to be organised early enough to effectively promote activities pre-event, and simply does not have the resources to document and archive activities post event - the infrequently updated SONA website is testament to this fact. Communications is not only an issue of promoting the good work of SONA and encouraging members to get involved, but an issue of transparency in governance.
SONA is desperately overstretched and needs to make a concerted effort to significantly increase resources. Developing our ability to secure sponsorship and grow revenue from other sources is the single biggest challenge now facing SONA. Adequate resourcing is not only an issue of being able to enact ambitious new plans, but in the first place simply ensuring that current levels of activity are sustainable.
National President 2007/2008