The minutes of the first Strings Attached AGM, below, will be proposed for acceptance at the subsequent AGM in 2013
Minutes of the 1st Annual General Meeting held on 19 February 2012 at 1300 at the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange
Present: David Betts, Valerie Betts, John Bosowski, David Botibol, Sandra Botibol, Mary Budleigh, Francis Clark-Lowes, Gwyneth Corum, Michael Corum, Chris Darwin, Kate Darwin, Rena Feld, Christina Gee, Charles Goldie, Jennifer Goldie, David Harrison, Doreen Izzard, John McKean, Mary McKean (Chair), Christine Moon, Paul Moore, Andrew Polmear, Margaret Polmear, Annie Robinson, Helen Simpson, Ian Stephens, John Stephens, Margaret Stephens, Teresa Stephens, Daphne Wall, Sylvia Weir
Michael Hanna was present as an observer.
Apologies: Yoshio Akiyama, Dennis Ashburn, Hilary Ashburn, Helen Clement, Roger Clement, Cynthia Eraut, Michael Eraut, Martin Higgins, John Hird, Jenny Toomey, Martin Toomey
1 Chair’s welcome
The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced the other members of the outgoing committee – John Bosowski, Chris Darwin, John McKean, Christine Moon (Hon Treasurer) and Margaret Polmear (Hon Secretary).
2 To adopt the constitution of Strings Attached
The Charity Commission model constitution for small charities (i.e. those with an income of less than £5,000 per annum), which had previously been adopted at a committee meeting in order to expedite registration as a charity for tax purposes, was formally adopted.
Proposed:David Harrison Seconded:Rena Feld
It was noted that the outcome of the application for charitable status was awaited but that, assuming it was forthcoming, steps would be taken to have donations already made Gift Aided where appropriate. It was pointed out that, in order to take advantage of Gift Aid, care would need to be taken not to offer benefits to members in excess of the amount permitted under HMRC rules.
Paul Moore offered assistance with this and other Gift Aid matters.
3 To consider the annual report
The report was received.
The Chair drew attention in particular to the vital role played by Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome and Festival, who was unable to be at the meeting, in facilitating the 2011/12 coffee concert series, and by David Botibol in providing tireless IT support.
4 To receive the audited financial accounts for the year ended 31 December 2011
The audited financial accounts for the year ended 31 December 2011 were received.
5 To agree the annual subscription for 2013
It was agreed that the annual subscription for the year 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2013 should remain at its current rate of £10 (£5 for students).
Proposed:Andrew Polmear Seconded:Christina Gee
The Chair indicated that negotiations had yet to take place with the Dome regarding any financial deal to be made available to Friends of Strings Attached for the 2012/13 coffee concert series but pointed out that membership is about more than financial deals, being, in addition, an opportunity to shape the organisation’s future, including influence on the future of the coffee concerts and other chamber music events.
It appeared that there had been some confusion about the deal available to Friends of Strings Attached for the 2011/12 coffee concert series and other offers available, such as to Members of Brighton Dome and Festival. It was requested that the various deals be clearly spelled out in future literature.
6 To appoint members of the committee
The Chair reported that all members of the outgoing committee were willing to serve for a further year with the exception of Chris Darwin who was standing down, although he would continue to be responsible for the programme notes for concerts and for the information elements of the Strings Attached website. Chris was warmly thanked for his contribution to date, in particular the wonderful programme notes for the current coffee concert series.
The Chair pointed out that there were three remaining places on the committee and that it would be useful to include a practising musician – either amateur or professional – and a young person. The committee does, however, have powers under the constitution to co-op members to the committee.
7 To reflect on the activity of Strings Attached, in particular the coffee concerts
The Chair introduced this item by reflecting on the results of the recent questionnaire sent to Friends. Thirty-one responses had been received and the main outcomes were as follows:
- There was a preference for the Corn Exchange as a venue rather than the stage of the Dome Concert Hall.
- There was a preference for raked seating.
- Respondees welcomed players talking about the music they were playing, their instruments, etc.
- 80% of those who responded would like the concerts to include more twentieth century music.
- There was a slight balance in favour of two pieces being played rather than three.
- 90% of respondents liked the format of the programme notes for the current coffee concert series.
The following comments were made:
- It was noted that few of the players to date had talked about the music or instruments and suggested that they be encouraged to do so. It was, however, pointed out that only younger players would have been taught as part of their training how to address an audience.
- Since the format of the concerts is in the round, players should also be encouraged to move places after each piece played.
- The repertoire for the current coffee concert series had been deliberately conservative because of its being a new venture. More modern music was likely to be included in the next series.
- In selecting the repertoire, thought should be given to early as well as more modern music.
- The after concert drinks was not felt to be entirely successful and it was suggested that an interval, even between just two pieces, would create more of a social occasion.
- The need to purchase drinks was perhaps one reason for many foregoing the after concert drinks and the idea of seeking a sponsor for a free drink was suggested, though it was recognised that this would take custom away from the Dome.
- Some felt that the concert venues had been inadequately heated.
- It was suggested that 75 minutes of playing/talking be asked of players rather than two pieces of music.
- Some who travelled some distance to attend the coffee concerts felt short-changed when a concert lasted less than an hour, however good the players were.
- If a concert is less than an hour, some questioned the value for money of the ticket, though it was pointed out that the excellent programme notes are free.
- Chamber music ranges far more widely than the traditional string quartet and this might be reflected in concerts.
- We need to do more to encourage younger people to attend, perhaps through the Cavatina scheme.
- A third of those present preferred reserved seating though it was recognised that reserved seating reduced flexibility in how seats are arranged for each concert.
- A less safe repertoire is likely to attract more people.
- The quality of the 2011/12 coffee concerts to date has been excellent.
8 To receive ideas for the future development and activity of Strings Attached
The Chair confirmed that there will be a 2012/13 coffee concert series comprising six concerts rather than the five in 2011/12. One of the concerts is likely to include wind and another piano and the repertoire is likely to be more adventurous than for the current series. There will also be a pre-series evening concert in October 2012. This is expected to feature a young quartet mentored by the President of Strings Attached, Levon Chilingirian. Because of the comedy festival taking place in October, the concert will be on the stage of the Dome Concert Hall.
There was general support for more of the same in 2012/13 with the added suggestion that interaction between performers and Friends of Strings Attached be encouraged.
A vote of thanks to the outgoing committee of Strings Attached was made.
Proposed:Sylvia Weir Seconded: Andrew Polmear
9 Any other business
It was suggested that the committee consider Twitter and/or Facebook as an additional means of communication. It was felt this was a useful means of networking with unknown people and in addition is what younger generations are used to using. David Harrison offered help in this matter.