By Michael Baadke
Officers of the international stamp exhibition planned for Boston, Mass., in 2026, have written a letter to the American Philatelic Society’s president and executive director, expressing concern about APS plans that are in development for a “large international stamp exhibition” in Chicago in 2021.
The Jan. 22 letter was addressed to APS president Mick Zais and executive director Scott English, and was signed by three Boston 2026 officials: president Nancy B. Clark, vice president Yamil H. Kouri Jr., and executive director Mark A. Butterline.
As Linn's reported Dec. 6, the APS is looking at options for holding a stamp show in 2021 that English previously described as “a midterm international show that would bridge the gap between New York 2016 and Boston 2026.”
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World Stamp Show-NY 2016 is the large international show held last year in New York City; Boston 2026 is the next scheduled international show in the United States.
International shows with patronage by the International Federation of Philately (FIP) are generally held every 10 years in the United States.
The discussion about a Chicago show in 2021 thus far has specified that it would not be an FIP-sanctioned show.
Although plans for a show in Chicago remain in the discussion phase, the conversation has been moving forward, and plans for the show were listed as an agenda item on the APS board meeting held by telephone conference on Jan. 24.
“We want to express our concern about the potential negative impact that a large international stamp exhibition in the United States in 2021 could have on the success and viability of Boston 2026,” the letter began.
After describing some of the show’s challenges and plans, the letter continued: “A quasi-international show five years before Boston 2026 will undoubtedly divert funds away from Boston 2026. The pool of large donors that can be counted on to support a show like New York 2016 is shrinking, and it is by no means certain that Boston 2026 will be able to match the level of financial support achieved by our last two international shows.
“We believe that the APS board vote in 2015 was specifically cast to grant support to the next international show, Boston 2026. In our view the only way to ensure that Boston 2026 has a reasonable chance of success is not to dilute the limited resources into another quasi-international show in 2021.”
Discussion of these concerns at the APS board meeting began with comments from Rich Drews, an APS director at large associated with the Collectors Club of Chicago and the Chicago Philatelic Society, and Jeffrey Shapiro, an APS vice president and a member of the Boston 2026 organizing committee.
The remarks came during a presentation by departing APS shows manager Megan Orient.
“I think it’s very important for us to keep in mind that if we do things well in 2021, we’re not going to be taking away from Boston at all,” Drews said. “In fact, we should involve the Boston people as much as possible, so that there is an almost seamless handoff from one to the next.”
Shapiro then replied with his concerns.
“Planning in the new world of 2026, there are many unknowns,” Shapiro said. “And for all of a sudden the 2021 international show to appear — that wasn’t part of the 2026 selection plan.”
Kouri, the Boston 2026 vice president who is also a former APS vice president, also participated in the telephone meeting.
“I don’t doubt that this is being done with the best intentions,” Kouri said, “but I don’t think anybody can be sure if this is going to be a great boost for Boston 2026 or if it would be potentially detrimental — no one knows.”
Kouri suggested that the Boston officers would be much more comfortable if the Chicago show was developed as a “supersized” stamp show, rather than emulating the model of other international shows.
Zais replied that the model being considered for Chicago was to develop it as an APS summer show “with an international component” for exhibiting and judging.
Shapiro asked that the Boston 2026 committee be invited to discussions on the matter that are expected to take place during the 2017 APS Ameristamp Expo, March 3-5 in Reno, Nev.
English, who is the APS advisor for Boston 2026 and therefore a member of the show’s organizing committee, agreed and volunteered to share with the Boston committee details of what would be presented to the APS board in Reno, so that the Boston group has the information in advance.
Kouri welcomed the invitation and the opportunity to discuss the subject further.
A report about the potential show in Chicago in 2021 was prepared by the APS Shows and Exhibitions department for APS board members to review.
Questions in the report reflected the still-tentative status of the show, with the duration of the show, show management and fundraising details unresolved.
The report noted that the U.S. Postal Service has expressed interest in ceremony space on the show floor. The site most frequently mentioned has been Rosemont, a Chicago suburb near O’Hare Airport.
The APS staff recommendations, included for the board to consider, suggest holding Chicago 2021 “as an enlarged APS Stampshow, but International Invitational,” extending the show to five full days, having the APS manage the show and host event pages on the APS website, and working with the Collectors Club of Chicago and the Chicago Philatelic Society to establish a committee and attract volunteers.
The next APS public board meeting will take place March 2 in Reno.