Directors meeting 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The annual director’s meeting, held at the Alliance Française de Houston from February 18 – 20, was attended by directors of 22 of the 25 largest Alliance Française chapters in the country. The meeting , which was organized by the Délégation générale of the Alliance Française in the US, welcomed Kareen Rispal, Cultural counselor, Matthieu Clouvel, Deputy Consul at the Consulate general of France in Houston, Dominique Chastres, Cultural attaché for the Houston area, Gerald Candelle, director of the US region at the Fondation Alliance Française in Paris, the Délégation générale team, including Thierry Lagnau, Isabelle Gruet and Pascal Saura, and 27 directors from American Alliance chapters.
After an opening statement from Isabelle Perreau, pedagogical director of the Alliance Française de Houston, speaking in place of the president, who had prior commitments at the university, the Deputy Consul opened the meeting by contextualizing the Consulate’s work in promoting France within the states of Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma and by inviting the participants to a closing reception at the Consulate general. The Cultural counselor took the opportunity to situate the Alliances within the scope of French culture, reminding attendees of the need to work in conjunction with the General Consulates and to listen to directors regarding the local situation of their Alliance. This usual round of speeches took on particular weight this year, in light of the economic situation, though it did show that the Alliances Françaises have not been very affected by it overall. Directors noticed a decrease in the number of students in 2008, (especially at the beginner level,) however, 14 of them had seen record numbers of registrations.
The main presentations during the course of the meeting revealed the following points:
In his 2008 report, the General Delegate highlighted the significant advances of the network’s pedagogical and cultural projects, which reaffirmed the Délégation générale’s commitment to the strategies defined in 2005. These strategies have proven to be efficient in uniting the energies of and giving structure to the growing, vast and heterogeneous network. With its 70 teaching centers in 116 chapters, the Alliance Française in the United States represented 35,751 members and 27,413 individual students in 20087, for a total of 46,191 registrations and overall sales of $23 million. Based on data from 25 Alliance chapters, which represents 91% of the network, early estimations for 2008 indicate a 9% decrease in the number of students but a 6.5% increase in the number of registrations, signifying a clear increase in the rate of retention.
The representative of the Fondation Alliance Française centered his presentation on the activities of the worldwide network, on the growth of the Fondation in its second year and, most especially, on fundraising, which is no longer only concentrated on raising capital but is also focused on backing up projects that target the chapters needs. His analysis of the Alliance Française in the United States pointed to two subtle assets. First, the fact that the network is mobilized and active in terms of working on pertinent, base-building projects. Second, that the network is overall efficient and maintains is market share despite difficult economic times.
A two-and-a-half hour session on “How to optimize the profits of your Alliance” brought about a lively discussion by a half-dozen Alliance directors who were asked to give examples of successful operations that could be adapted in other chapters.
Also on the meeting’s program was a two-hour presentation on the theme of marketing and marketing strategies. Inviting a speaker from outside the network, a first for the annual director’s meeting, was very much appreciated by the participants. Eric Studer, a marketing professional and author, notably of the Accor hotel group’s marketing campaigns, spoke with participants after the presentation.
Below are notes from the meeting’s various subjects:
Cultural session lead by Isabelle Gruet
Pedagogical session lead by Pascal Saura
The Délégation générale of the Alliance Française in the United States would like to thank the President of the Alliance Française, Dr Rolande Leguillon, the Executive Director, Joan Patrick, and the whole team of the Alliance Française de Houston for their wonderful hospitality and their particularly efficient logistics. They contributed so much to the success of the meetings and discussions over the two day period.