What Happened to MECDA’s Democracy?
The questions MECDA members are asking are:
“Has there been a coup?”
“What has happened to the election of new board members?”
directions in MECDA's charter, stating how the election must
be accomplished. The annual election of MECDA board members
usually happens in May, but so far this year, appointees have
superceeded the charter’s process. These rules, and those concerning
the eligibility of nominees, have been ignored for 2008.
most organizations comprised of paying members, only
a vote of the membership can enact any change in its
it would be like joining the Auto Club and finding that the
elected officers decided to use the membership dues to promote
the legalization of marijuana or any other whim.)
summary of the instructions for the MECDA Board election
is as follows:
nomination ballot is mailed to all members.
people nominated are contacted to find out if they want
to run for office.
so, they are then asked to write a short paragraph stating
what they hope to accomplish in the position.
information is published in the next issue of “Happenings.”
are mailed to all members. The ballots are in an official
MECDA envelope that must include both the ballot and an
official return envelope. Another feature of this mailing
is that the envelopes are numbered to prevent false ballots
from being submitted.
membership has approximately three weeks to return their
official ballot in the pre-addressed MECDA envelope. Any
vote that is not in the official envelope or marked on
the official ballot will not be counted.
new officers are announced in the June Happenings (the
monthly publication produced by MECDA) and also at the
MECDA Cairo Festival.
is designated a non-profit
organization, but if so, there
are certain rules that must be followed to keep that status.
In 2008, only the first two items have occurred!
person or persons that are members of a non-profit organization
may, in any way, make a profit from this organization,
(other than a salary paid to the officers, and this must
be approved by membership).
Thomas has been doing the printing for MECDA for
years, but according to her own statement in a recent short
“Happenings,” printing is MECDA’s greatest expense. Under
the non-profit status rules, she is not allowed to do this
under any circumstances. There is no history
of bids being taking during this time to see if printing
could be done for less at another printing company. Additionally,
as a non-profit organization with a paying membership, publishing
a financial statement at the end of each fiscal year is required.
MECDA's fiscal year ends on April 30th but there is no such
published statement currently.
Issues of Note
is the question of the lawsuit against Marta Schill for using
“trade secrets” (apparently referring to the organizing of
the event she called “Cairo Carnival). Again; it seems an
unnecessary expenditure for trade secrets that do not exist.
All of these similar events, large and small, are run in
the same basic manner. Also, if the Board voted this lawsuit
to proceed, then the names of the board members who voted
should be a matter of public record.
If it is shown that
no vote was held, then the person or persons who filed the
lawsuit should be responsible for all expenses, not MECDA
- In the
past two years of this board's management, over a third the
membership has dropped out, and it is common to hear from
members “when my membership renewal comes due, I will not
be doing so”. During his or her two-year term, nearly every
elected and appointed officer has resigned.
- I would
personally like to thank Marta Schill for integrity shown
in correcting the statement about my stealing the MECDA mailing
list. (This letter was posted on Tribe.net in 2006 and signed
by Janet Thomas, Marta Schill, and Rosemary Humbert. I wish
she had also included the entire "Concerned Members":
Annittra Ravenmoon, Feiruz, and Harry
Saroyan, but it seems
that Janet Thomas and Rosemary Humbert do not feel compelled
to correct this wrong.)
Call for Action!
If you care about the original mission and purpose behind the formation of
MECDA, it is time for you to become involved. Our original idea was to protect
the rights of Belly dancers in the professional entertainment world, and later,
it included the subject of education, concerning culture and dance of the Middle
East. We original members do not want to witness the demise of the organization
we created. Because of the apparent direction in which MECDA is currently heading,
we believe that we must regain control before it is too late to act responsibly!
- We are
forming a petition to present to the present board. Please
contact me (contact information below) if you would like
to sign this petition.
- We intend
to notify the Internal Revenue Service if MECDA does not
adhere to its original mission policy, under which the organization
applied for its tax-exempt status.
- We want
to clarify that the organization’s charter is not subject
to legal change without the consent of the majority of the
- Our petition
will attempt to force the currently appointed officers on
the board to hold a valid election to legally elect officers
to the board. Further, we will require a full and publicly
reported accounting of the expenditures made to the organization’s
- We intend
to pursue legal correction of any wrongdoing by the appointed
officers that may be revealed and proved after the installation
of a newly elected board of officers.
We, the original
members and others of like mind, have the option to begin the
formation of a new organization that will promote and insure
the best interests of all dancers as we originally intended.
I have nothing to gain from this measure; I will not run for
office, but I will attend all meetings. I know it is hard to
make a stand because some of the members are your friends,
and you may be afraid you might lose friendships. However,
if you valued MEDCA you must take action or lose what was once
a great dance association.
If you want to sign a petition to re-possess of the MECDA organization, or
start a new one, please contact me and let me know your preference. If we are
unable to put MECDA back on course, those who would like to help start a new
organization whose charter will state that everyone will be treated equally
in all matters concerning the membership should contact me. My e-mail address:
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for
other possible viewpoints!
the Facts, In Response to: "MECDA Breaks its
Silence by Rachel Lazarus" by Doyne Allen
have never accused anyone of stealing money. We have brought to
the MECDA Board’s attention the waste and bad management
Breaks Its Silence by Rachel Lazarus Soto
agreed that this was a good idea, and Schill volunteered to do
the paperwork, presumably on the behalf of MECDA.
First 30 Years , The Middle Eastern Culture and Dance
Association's Changing Role in our Community by Marta
however, often leads to dissention, and controversy flew regarding
the perception of the rather strict parameters of the Egyptian
MECDA Began by Feiruz Aram
(Middle Eastern Culture and Dance Association) is a nationwide
organization which began in 1977 for the purpose of organizing
working dancers, sharing information between teachers...
MECDA Began Part II, To Whom It May Concern by Mish
was very curious to hear what Fairuz had to say about how M.E.C.D.A.
began, as I was one of the original dancers to organize it.
Belly Dance:MECDA's Beginnings, Part 3:Tying Up Loose Ends,
by Samra /Sherifa,
The problem was that after the first strike, where the issues were so
clear cut –no one had been paid since the owner gambled away our money,
tip-sharing had just been instituted -- people were unwilling to continue with
strikes for getting contracts all over town.
First (and definately not the last!) Tribal Cafe! by
was the first all tribal belly dance event sponsored by MECDA IE
and took place on August 21st, 2004 in Montclair, California.
Democracy Skips First Amendment! Report
by Lynette, Editor
second call, a few minutes later, warned me not to come to Rakkasah
Dance in Japan Reaches New Heights of Popularity by
Ranya Renee Fleysher
audiences are extremely receptive, supportive and interested in
this form of entertainment.”Conservative elder Japanese may
still disapprove of the sensual aspect of belly dance, but among
the younger generation it is seen as cool and trendy.
First Experience in Egypt by Nadira
have always felt a pull to visit Egypt to experience the history
and culture of this dance I love so much. The chance came about
just recently and it was so worth the wait.
Tours 6th Annual Middle Eastern Music and Dance Camp Report
and Photos by Nina Amaya
at Camp Greenlane in Pennsylvania, May 2008. The authenticity
of the camp is amazing. I love Rakkasah and Tribal weekends as
much as anyone else, but watching and listening to Arab musicians
play Arab music and Turkish musicians play Turkish music, well,
that adds a little something! After the nightly shows, the musicians
keep playing to the wee hours and the camp dances in the big
dining hall until we drop.
of the Tribes 2008 photos by Denise Marino
24-27 2008, War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Produced by Maja