The Future of the Great Basin Anthropological Conference

Dear members of the GBAA and attendees of the GBAC,

I’m writing to convey to you the results of the April board of directors meeting of the GBAA.  In that meeting, the board addressed the dire financial circumstances facing the GBAA and how to rectify these circumstances.  I’m writing to you to make clear what these circumstances are and the methods the board has developed to improve our fiscal situation.

Historically, the GBAA has been funded solely by proceeds from the biennial GBAC meetings.  Below-average attendance at both the Salt Lake City meetings and the Las Vegas meetings resulted in net losses for each meeting. Combined with yearly costs associated with maintaining the GBAA website, paying for email services and maintaining a PayPal account (these average ~$1200/yr), the first down payment for the upcoming GBAC in Bend, Oregon ($2500), costs associated with postponing the Las Vegas GBAC due to Covid (we fell behind a whole year in income due to having to postpone the meetings), and other small costs like bank fees, we are currently left with a budget of only about $1300.  We need to pay the venue in Bend another $5000 by the end of the year to ensure we hold onto the meeting venue there. 

Building up to the Las Vegas GBAC, we solicited donations from CRM firms, other entities, and GBAC attendees.  Many businesses and individuals were very generous, to the point that these donations offset most of the costs associated with the low attendance at the Las Vegas meeting (our net loss was only $580).  I want to make it clear that the board spent a lot of time debating whether and how to hold the Las Vegas GBAC. We came to the conclusion that we had to hold it because: (1) the reason the GBAA exists is to ensure the GBAC happens every two years; and (2) we had to meet our contract obligations with Caesar’s Entertainment (the owners of the conference hotel) in order to avoid forfeiting our deposit and to avoid penalties paid to Caesars, both of which could easily have forced us into bankruptcy and the dissolution of the GBAA. Note we signed our contract with Caesars well before the onset of the pandemic and Caesars worked with us in very good faith to ensure this did not occur.  

Long story short: we need additional funding to keep the GBAA afloat and ensure we continue having regular GBAC meetings (my favorite archaeology conference, hands down), including the one we’ve already got scheduled for Bend in 2023.  As we feel we’ve exhausted our donation requests for the time being and need to secure a more steady stream of income to cover the yearly costs of running the GBAA, the GBAA board voted unanimously in April to institute biennial dues for GBAA members. Article V of the bylaws of the GBAC, approved in 2008, establish that there shall be biennial dues collected by the GBAC at a rate and date determined by the board.  We have never instituted nor have we collected dues, but we feel this is our only reasonable course of action given our current circumstances.

So this is what we propose: a simple tiered membership dues drive where regular members pay $50 and students and Native American members pay $20 every other year (that’s only $25 per year for regular members).  Even at the anonymously low attendance volume of the Las Vegas GBAC (where we had 51 student and Native American attendees and 206 regular attendees), we estimate these dues would generate about $11,000, enough to cover our upcoming $5000 second down payment for the 2023 Bend GBAC while leaving at least a small cushion to make sure we can cover bills until that conference, which will hopefully generate revenue.  

We propose instituting these fees on the GBAA website using our PayPal portal this summer, but wanted to share this information with you, the population we serve, prior to doing so.  If you have any thoughts on the matter, we would love to hear them, so please consider this your invitation to do so.  You can send your responses to the GBAA board by replying to this email or by emailing me directly at  [email protected].  Thank you for your attention to this matter. 


Chris Morgan
GBAA President

Comments are closed.