Committee's AGM Report 2019/20

Committee's AGM Report 2019/20

28 Jul 2020 - 15:20 BY Martin Gillibrand

It is hard to remember in July 2020 that most of the Society's year was quite normal, and very successful, thanks largely to the enthusiasm of our members, and the hard work of all our committee.

We enjoyed full membership during the year, with a short waiting list, thanks to the great efficiency of Judie Graham-Clegg, our Membership Secretary, and to the work of Sue West's membership sub-committee. It is clear that existing members are the best recruiters for new members, and the happy atmosphere generated at the Christmas meeting is a great help in attracting new members. Again, we  have a full membership in the current year.

Last year we organised a Mail-chimp training course for the Area (and for ourselves), and the facility that Mail-chimp has provided for enabling us to communicate with members has proved invaluable, particularly in recent months. There is a small number of Members without email access, which does make life difficult - particularly for them, and even an email contact would help us stay in touch.

Angela Pape produced another stimulating and varied programme of lectures, and we are very grateful to her for the hard work she puts into compiling and organising the programme, and the speakers, as well as ensuring that each lecturer arrives at the right place on the right day - no easy task. John Parkinson has continued to work miracles with the projection and sound systems, very often at short notice of a particular problem, but we all benefit from his entirely reliable attendance, as well as his calmness.

The programme of study days organised by Jenny Fisher has proved attractive and varied and has been pretty well supported by Members. But it does appear that these study days attract very much the same people each time, without bringing in new recruits, so that Jenny & Sue O'Brien are considering in the Trips Tours Sub-committee possible alternative formats which might attract additional interest.

As always Sue O'Brien has worked tirelessly as a one-woman Tour operator to put together a very successful Scottish Tour in May 2019, and in planning a Hampshire Tour for spring, 2020. Again, the number of people interested is just enough to make these tours viable at the moment, but they do seem to attract the same members each year, and some changes may be worth exploring.

Once again, very many thanks are due to John Wilson who has organised popular and successful outings to Richmond, and to the Lake District this year.

Through 2019 Mary Frankland ran, on our behalf, a Young Arts programme for Year 6 at Christ Church school, Lancaster, based on a theme of The Sea and The Islands, involving students developing their own stories after a professional story-teller introduced the theme, and then planned, designed and made their own ceramic story pots. This project attracted wide interest, and certainly enabled the year group to take on and complete a hands-on arts project in a way that they never could have done without Marys boundless commitment, and your Society's sponsorship. The project even secured a short article in the Arts Society Magazine.

I am particularly grateful to Sue West for taking on the job of Secretary, and for her very efficient organisation of both the Society and me, and in particular for her work in ensuring that we can keep Members up to date with the affairs of the Society.

Cathy Hartley has kindly agreed to carry on as Treasurer for another year in the absence of a volunteer to replace her, but we really do need to find someone to take on the post of Treasurer.  The Society's accounts for the year, and her report, accompany this report.

Finally, in the "Thank You" section of this report, I would like to thank all those members who help to keep the Society running smoothly and efficiently, and in such a friendly way, whether it be by organising refreshments, mulling wine, taking their lives in their hands by directing car-parking or stacking chairs - all your work is appreciated and valued.

But all this calm and happy existence has juddered to a stop in March with the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic. Even before formal lockdown it was obvious that holding meetings for 140-plus members squeezed tightly into Borwick Hall, or even putting on a study day or coach outing would not be practicable or acceptable, and accordingly  your Committee, working by telephone and Zoom, has cancelled the lecture and event programme until it is clearly safe to restart, and until members once again feel happy to come to our meetings. We don't know when that will be but it seems unlikely to be in 2020, so we think that the fairest way forward is to suspend membership and aim to restart where we left off, in March, but in 2021, holding over subscriptions for the year, which we can manage by using most of our reserves.

If it becomes possible to organise a trip or a speaker in the meantime we will of course let you know, but in any case would encourage you to keep in touch with the Arts Society through their on-line lectures and magazine.

As you know, I am determined that no-one should continue in office as Chairman for longer than 3 or 4 years - the Society benefits from different approaches of new Chairmen, and I am delighted that John Houghton had agreed to be co-opted to the Committee with a view to standing for election as Chairman at the AGM. We have been thwarted in that plan for an orderly succession by not being able to hold an AGM, but John has kindly agreed to be appointed by the Committee as acting Chairman until he can be formally elected, and I do thank him for that and wish him well in taking on the job in such difficult circumstances.

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