In early 1988, the members of Watchface began discussing the advantages of becoming a nonprofit
organization. The many benefits of incorporation included access to grants that were only available to
nonprofits, tax-exemption on purchases, as well as the ability to solicit donations that would be
tax-deductible for the contributor. With increased funding, they would be able to rent rehearsal space,
as opposed to working in their living rooms, expand their technical capabilities, finance tours, and pay
collaborators – not to mention pay themselves, all of which would enable their work to develop beyond
the low-tech, downtown aesthetic they had already established.

At the end of the year they took their first steps toward incorporation, and in January 1989 the first
organizational meeting was held. Supportive friends with backgrounds in business or the world of
nonprofits were invited to participate. The first Watchface Board of Directors included club promoter
and retail owner Aldo Hernandez, writer and critic Katherine Dieckmann, lawyer Tim Jensen, arts
administration expert Michael Sieverts, and incorporation specialist Heidi Spitzer, as well as the members
of Watchface. By-laws were drafted and a report on the incorporation process was given. At a second
meeting in the spring the seven Watchface members received jobs, including press kit manager,
press kit quotes photo archivist, video archivist, publicity and press archivist, tour manager, treasurer,
grant researcher, and Board President. The non-Watchface members of the new Board also accepted
tasks that reflected their strengths and past experience. Big projects, such as a fall benefit, quarterly
promotional mailings, developing a standard contract, expanding Board membership, and the search for
corporate sponsors, were discussed and proposed performances and new projects were outlined for 1989
through 1991. This was all an enormous departure from the casual, ad hoc way that Watchface had dealt
with business up to this point in its history, with everyone operating independently and pitching in as

The year 1989 was a productive one for Watchface, with the creation of four new works, Bloody Mary,
Society of Mothers, AAaaaw! A Tribute to Domestic Animals, and Sodomite Warriors, and tours to upstate
New York and Ontario, Ottawa, Canada. In December, Watchface held its first fundraiser under its
nonprofit status to benefit White, the only show booked for 1990.

White turned out to be a controversial production and there were only three Watchface members among
its eleven participants. At the time White finished its run in February at Dance Theater Workshop, Pioneers
of Aviation
was the only performance in the planning stages. The Board meetings concentrated on
establishing the structure of the organization and creating the tools to benefit from incorporation, but the
creative work at the core of that structure was contracting. Watchface’s only other planned project was a
fundraiser with an original performance of some kind by all seven members.

The wild creative energy that had always characterized the group seemed to be dissipating. For some,
being a member of Watchface felt more like an obligation and a job than a license to work hard on
something exciting, meaningful, immediate, and gratifying. The commitment required by this step into
legitimacy made the members think about what other roads they wanted to explore, and what they might
be sacrificing.

As simply and easily as they had established their performance collective, the group decided to end it at
a meeting in August. The biggest concern was how to break it to their Board, who had been working so
unselfishly on their behalf, and telling their friends and fans. Work was nearly finished on a Watchface
Fun Book, originally intended to be sold at the now-cancelled benefit, and they decided instead to
complete it as an appropriate parting gift to the Board, past collaborators, and generous supporters
(see fun book ). As a giveaway for the benefit, kitschy combs had been purchased printed with the phrase
“WATCHFACE: COMB,” a play on how some of their recent shows had been promoted. promotional comb
The comb was added to the farewell package along with a letter Maggie Siena created to accompany
the gifts. The bittersweet note included an illustration of a Watchface headstone with the inscription
“August 1983 thru August 1990.” farewell note After a final Board meeting in the fall, Watchface’s last and
only President of the Board, Kim X Knowlton, sent a letter to the former Board members. Board letter
Watchface’s closing sentiment, in the P.S. on Maggie’s note, read, “Don’t be sad, it’s like graduation.”