Three years ago I wrote an article for ArtsHacker.com about being aware of the open meeting requirements your state imposes on non-profits.
I basically pointed out that while pretty much every state requires a non-profit organization receiving state funds to comply with open meeting laws, every state is different when it comes to defining at what degree of state support an organization needs to begin complying.
In some states, the existence of your non-profit pretty much needs to be established by an act of the legislature, while in other states being provided with a meeting space in a state owned building is all that is required to make your organization subject to the state open meetings and records laws.
I am not sure what has happened in the last year or so, but pretty much once a month now someone leaves a comment asking if an organization in their state is subject to open meetings or open records laws. I pretty much end up saying, “You should really consult a lawyer on this subject, but here is what I found online about the laws in your state.”
I have yet to find a state that doesn’t have the rules governing non-profits posted online somewhere, pretty clearly labeled. So if you are curious about your state, I encourage you to check online first because that is all I am going to do. (Check both the sections on open meetings and retention and access to records.)
Some states have some pretty good guides created to answer questions about open meetings and non-profits. It is good to have your secretary of state telling you clearly what the state laws do and don’t require.
I call attention to all this because I am wondering why there is a surge in questions on the post. There are far more comments on that post than anything else I have written on the site. Have search engines started giving it better placement in results? Are people seeking greater transparency from the organizations with which they are involved and don’t know where to find answers? (Or perhaps, the closure of so many local newspapers means a lack of people to help them find answers)
If anyone has theories, please share.
I should note, I am not sure any of the queries have come from people involved with arts and culture organizations. Only about half provide any details that identify what sort of organization they are working with and none of them have been arts related.
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