Problems at Allied Arts Guild
Original post made by Allied Arts Member on Mar 14, 2007
I'm concerned about the future of the Allied Arts property. As a longtime member of the Woodside-Atherton Auxiliary, I believe that our leadership has done an excellent job of restoring our wonderful buildings and beautiful gardens, and in the process lost Allied Arts' soul. Since reopening, we have been unable to retain retail tenants which attract traffic to our site, we have closed our popular gift shop, and have just thrown out the strongest draw our facility has ever had, the Palo Alto Auxiliary volunteer-staffed restaurant.
I know our donations to the Children's Hospital from Allied Arts operations are down, and that our Tally Ho revenues are also below par, but does our leadership really think that hosting meetings, conferences and other events will bring in any significant money? Will businesses come to this neighborhood site? Will the neighbors stand for it?
We've tried without success to attract business customers since we re-opened. What's changed? I understand the Palo Alto Auxiliary restaurant contributed nearly $100,000 a year to Children's Hospital. We have essentially destroyed that business. Our new "for profit" caterers won't make any donations, especially when they have labor costs to pay, and just how long will any restaurant or retailer survive at Allied Arts with a steadily diminishing flow of visitors and the usage limitations imposed by Menlo Park?
I think it is time to recognize that our Woodside Atherton leadership is not pursuing a winning strategy. Our rank-and-file member opinions have no apparent affect on business decisions, and revenues and contributions to the hospital continue to fall. Why did we accept millions in donations to renovate Allied Arts, when it appears the money would have been better spent going directly to the hospital? We now have an empty, unused, attractive facility. How sad.
How will the neighbors feel when we are forced to sell the property for who knows what use. How will the hospital feel as it loses yet another source of financial support. And how will we feel, knowing we let it all slip through our fingers.
Over the years I've happily worked on the Tally Ho and in our Traditional Shop, but now I'm a very discouraged volunteer. What do other people think?
on Mar 15, 2007 at 11:52 am
I felt really discouraged, too, when I visited Allied Arts on a beautiful day a couple of weeks ago and found that there were hardly any other people there, aside from the shopkeepers. It's hard to believe that such an exquisite place to visit attracts so few. But if the restaurant's patrons had also been dwindling, I'm not sure what good it would have done to keep it open, especially if the number of volunteers to run it was also dropping. Wasn't that the case? Or was that the auxiliary leadership's spin?
I can understand why Discouraged is so distressed, but is there any solution? How can the auxiliary attract more people to this enchanting spot?
on Mar 15, 2007 at 2:50 pm
I too feel very sad at what has happened to Allied Arts and Tally Ho. I remember when Allied Arts was a destination because of the beautiful gardens, the lunches made and served in the Tea Room by the wonderful women of the Palo Alto Aux, and the never to disappoint Traditional Shop, always filled with beautiful seasonal floral arrangements and all the little things you never knew you needed until you saw them there.
I remember when Tally Ho was a wonderful event known for it's fabulous cocktail hour/fashion show, set before spectacular yearly themed backdrops made by the husbands, sons, and friends of the members that left us in awe every year. I remember how after dinner, some people danced, while other guests made the trek in all their finery, cocktails in hand to watch the beautiful evening horseshow.
I remember the friendships that developed between members as we all watched our event come together. Then one year the powers that be decided that the event needed to be updated. The event began to morph into every other charity event in the area...we stopped being unique. The women that had poured hundreds of volunteer hours, not to mention their hearts and souls not just into Tally Ho, but the Traditional Shop stopped having fun because of the change in leadership. This new group of women established what Tally Ho seems to have become today...a party for the dwindling membership, not the surrounding community and Peninsula the way it used to be.
I wish someone could wave a magic wand and bring back the simple days of the Allied Arts Guild and Tally Ho. I'll bet you'd be hard pressed to find a single person that worked on, or attended the event back in it's hey day that doesn't have at least one fond memory of Allied Arts, or Tally Ho.
How about readers posting some of their favorite memories of Allied Arts and Tally Ho...I doubt it will change the minds of the powers that be, but it will be a nice trip down memory lane!
on Mar 15, 2007 at 2:50 pm
Well, I'm glad someone has finally spoken up! I should have, and didn't. Shame on me. Our wonderful Allied Arts complex, as noted by "Discouraged," is on the verge of disaster. The roses will soon be in full bloom, and there will be no one to see them. The shops are empty, the restaurant gone, and few visitors are to be seen on the grounds.
As a result of these conditions (and others), many of our Woodside Atherton membership question the direction our president, on her own, seems to be taking us. It's almost as if the opinions of the rest of the members of the auxiliary don't count, so we're neither asked nor informed. Art galleries, meetings, conferences, a return to our "roots," all have been identified as our future, but what good is it to pursue plans and strategies that didn't work in the past? Nothing new has been proposed for the site, and some of us feel there must be something else she has in mind. What is it? Selling the property? It's an inevitable result if we can't make money and pay our bills, let alone contribute to Children's Hospital.
We need some answers, Ms. President. Where are we going? Why? Don't give us vague platitudes. It's time to be candid with your fellow members.