Chairman’s report for AGM 12th November 2019
As I write my final report for BSDFAS, I begin with a review of another successful programme of lectures and we are grateful to our Programme Secretary, Maggie Simons for maintaining its quality and variety. Our 2019 programme began with Philip Venning discussing issues of heritage and why certain buildings should be protected. In March we welcomed Gavin Plumley whose talk about fin de siècle Vienna has generally been discussed as one of the best the Society has seen.
April’s meeting will be remembered as proof that our risk assessment works. When Chloe Sayer was stuck on the train just outside Liverpool Street, I called upon the assistance of Paul Richard at Rhodes and we brought you a selection on items on film until our speaker arrived. Sadly, she had time for only half of her lecture, but she will return in 2021 for its conclusion.
Sue Jackson visited in May to tell the story of the Huguenots in Spitalfields and then in June Adam Busiakiewicz delighted us with the story of the lute through images and performance. We ventured into new territory in July when Ross King talked of his native Canada and the work of the landscape painters known as The Group of 7. In September we mixed art with social history when Shawn Kholucy told the story of C R Ashbee and Arts and Crafts Movement.
We have two lectures still to enjoy when Alexander Epps will in October explain the mysteries of the Golden Section, the maths that sits at the heart of art and architecture. Finally, an old friend Oliver Everett returns in November to present some stories behind the knotty problem of the British in India and the cross fertilisation of influence.
As I explained in the Autumn newsletter, the December meeting has been cancelled as the Rhodes Theatre is no longer available. From next year we have added a lecture in January to replace the loss of December.
We have enjoyed two successful Days of Special Interest and we thank Hilary Mathews for arranging these. In January we enjoyed Colours of the Artist’s Palette’ with Lynne Gibson and in August we embraced the art of Cornwall when Catherine Wallace transported us Under the Open Sky: Cornish Art. 1880 -1940.
Once again, we thank our team of Margaret Fitch and Delphine Sajid for a series of successful outings this year. We began in March with a behind the scenes tour of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, an experience enhanced by entertaining guides. In April a group visited the Charles Rennie Mackintosh House and Haddonstone Show Gardens. In May we visited Mount Ephraim Gardens near Faversham and Provender House. In August Margaret arranged an impromptu visit to Henry Moore Studios. We will shortly enjoy a trip to Margate to visit the Turner Contemporary Gallery.
At the beginning of the year our Vice Chair Jan Richardson spent some time planning an overseas trip to Berlin but sadly there were insufficient numbers to take this forward. However, undaunted Jan in conjunction with Heritage Travel began again and in September a group visited Dundee and surrounding area. The visit was a great success. Sadly, this may be our last residential trip unless someone is willing to take on its arrangement. Our thanks go to Jan for arranging these trips for many years, my thanks too for her support throughout my time as Chair.
Our Young Arts coordinator, Eveline Thomas, continues to work hard at forming relationships with local schools to offer financial support to arts projects. Full details of this year’s donations amounting £800 are set out in the autumn newsletter. We continue to endeavour to fulfil our commitment to support local projects and Eveline would be pleased to hear from you with ideas or introductions. We sent a donation of £300 to St Michael’s Church to support its appeal for funds to refurbish the Church Bells, a sound very much part of life in Bishops Stortford.
Now to matters of organisation for this year’s AGM. Having completed 3 years as Chair I will be stepping down and will be leaving the committee, however I am pleased to report that we have a volunteer to take the role. Roger Beeching is a new member but is known to many of you through his many activities as Councillor and School Governor. The Committee will propose Roger for the position as Chair and I hope you will support this. Our Secretary, David Green, is also stepping down having completed 10 years in the role and we offer a huge word of thanks for all he has contributed to the smooth running of our Society. I am pleased to report that Ray Jones, who was co-opted on to the Committee earlier in the year, is going to take on the role. He too will be proposed by the Committee and I hope that you will support this.
We will also say goodbye and thank you to Margaret Fitch who leaves the Committee, but I am sure she will remain a support to Delphine with her plans for 2020 (and maybe organise an extra visit too). Finally, I would like to record our thanks to John Loadman who set up and has maintained our website for many years and who is stepping down from this role. John has ensured that lines communication remain clear and a visit to the website should keep all members aware of what is going on within the Society. Remember the yellow dot that will see your message go straight to the Chair’s inbox.
Amidst these changes some things remain, and thanks go to our Treasurer Graham Savage who keeps our books and charts our finances for our future stability. Jenny Savage our Membership Secretary maintains our records and our Technician Cliff Richardson looks after our speakers to ensure continuity with the folk at Rhodes. We continue to benefit from the efficient support of the Rhodes’ staff, from providing our coffee to meeting all IT needs of our speakers.
Looking ahead there is one matter that remains the subject of debate, that being our name and whether we should change to become The Arts Society Bishops Stortford. I have had several comments on both sides of the debate and unfortunately, I cannot propose a compromise. I simply propose that it must stay on the agenda as a matter that requires further thought.
And so, I sign off with good wishes to all and particularly those who take our Society life forward.