The minutes of the second AGM, Strings Attached 2012-13, below, will be proposed for acceptance at the subsequent AGM in March 2014.
Elaine Barwise, David Betts, Valerie Betts, John Bosowski, David Botibol, Sandra Botibol, Mary Budleigh, Helen Clement, Roger Clement, Gwyneth Corum, Michael Corum, David Crawfurd, Chris Darwin, Rena Feld, Charles Goldie, Jennifer Goldie, David Harrison, Muriel Hart, Ann Higgins, Martin Higgins, John Hird, Mary McCullough, John McKean, Mary McKean (Chair), Christine Moon, Paul Moore, Margaret Norman, Annabel Pagel, Andrew Polmear, Margaret Polmear, Guy Richardson, Helen Simpson, Ian Stephens, Teresa Stephens, Daphne Wall, Sylvia Weir
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome and Festival, was present as an observer.
Apologies: Kate Darwin, Christina Gee, Jackie Lythell
1 Chair’s welcome
The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting, in particular Andrew Comben, and introduced the other members of the outgoing committee – John Bosowski, John McKean, Christine Moon (Hon Treasurer) and Margaret Polmear (Hon Secretary).
2 To receive the minutes of the first Annual General Meeting held on 19 February 2012
The minutes were accepted as a true record of the meeting.
Proposed: Daphne Wall
Seconded: Paul Moore
3 To consider the Annual Report of the Committee of Strings Attached
The report was received.
The Chair drew attention to the excellent co-operation between Strings Attached and the staff of Brighton Dome and Festival, evidenced by the programming of the current coffee concert series and changes made in the organisation of the concerts in response to views expressed at the last Annual General Meeting. She also drew attention to the development of the Strings Attached website and thanked in particular the following:
- Chris Darwin for maintaining the calendar of chamber music events in Brighton and Hove, which Friends were encouraged to consult, and the list of local performers wishing to contact other players, in addition to producing the excellent programme notes for each
- Andrew Polmear and Richard Amey for their thoughtful reviews of the concerts and encouraged others to add their own thoughts.
- David Botibol for his general oversight and development of the website.
4 To receive the audited financial accounts for the year ended 31 December 2012
The audited financial accounts for the year ended 31 December 2012 were received.
It was noted that income from Friends’ subscriptions appeared to have dropped considerably because initial subscriptions ran to 31 December 2012 and were only now being renewed.
5 To agree the annual subscription for 2014
It was agreed that the annual subscription for the year 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2014 should remain at its current rate of £10 (£5 for students).
Proposed: Helen Simpson
Seconded: David Crawfurd
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 and this was supported unanimously.
Proposed: David Botibol
Seconded: David Harrison
It was also agreed unanimously that Guy Richardson, a practising professional musician, should join the committee with immediate effect.
Proposed: Andrew Polmear
Seconded: Rena Feld
The Chair further reported that the current secretary wishes to give up the role of membership secretary but retain the duties of committee secretary and that discussions are taking place with a Friend with a view to her taking on the role of membership secretary. Assuming the discussions are favourably concluded, the individual will be co-opted on to the committee, as provided for in the constitution of Strings Attached.
7 To reflect on outcomes of the recent survey
A summary of the survey results was circulated.
The Chair indicated that the survey had inadvertently been sent to everyone on the Strings Attached mailing list, not just Friends, but that the responses, of which there had been 50, appeared to have come from Friends or, at least, coffee concert regulars.
The main outcomes were as follows:
- There is a strong preference for three pieces and an interval.
- There was a mixed response to meeting the performers after the concert. Although most performers are happy to meet the audience, few audience members take advantage of this opportunity. It was suggested that the interval perhaps deterred some from staying even longer but noted that asking performers to meet the audience during the interval was not feasible.
- Respondents appeared generally happy with the balance of ensembles performing in the 2012/13 season. It was agreed that it would be impossible to please everyone all of the time and that therefore a balance of ensembles, such as had been achieved in 2012/13, was required.
- Respondents were almost equally divided between those who preferred at least one concert with a singing element and those who preferred no concert to include a singer. It was noted that the January concert featuring the Britten Sinfonia with the tenor Mark Padmore had been very well received, although it was pointed out that the concert had included instrumental only pieces.
- There was a balance in favour of more 20th and 21st century rather than more pre-classical work. It was suggested that this might be because of the existence of the Brighton Early Music Festival. It was also pointed out that, in order to grow the audience, it might be necessary to include both more contemporary and more pre-classical music and that we should not confine ourselves to what we know and like. Andrew Comben said that it was important that artists perform what they feel they can best deliver but that he would be delighted to seek out ensembles that were willing to perform both the core repertoire and less well known work. With regard to contemporary music, the Chair said that Strings Attached is in discussion with MOOT (Music of Our Time) which might lead to some degree of joint co-operation.
- Most respondents like the performers to talk to the audience before the performance about the music, the ensemble or their instruments, so long as it is brief. It was noted that music in the round is a tricky format for a speaker and that some audience members have difficulty in hearing anything that is said. Andrew Comben agreed that this would be overcome by using a roaming microphone and agreed to look into the possibility, though he pointed out that their use can cause difficulties, especially if not turned off after use.
- Respondents were overwhelmingly content not to be able to book individual seats in advance.
- Respondents were also overwhelmingly content with the free programme notes.
- A variety of comments were made regarding improving the experience of the concerts. The Chair indicated that all would be taken up with staff at Brighton Dome and Festival. It was noted, in particular, that the Corn Exchange is often cold. Andrew Comben said that the Corn Exchange was not an easy venue to heat and that he and his team are working on a capital plan that will help address the problem.
- Respondents were overwhelmingly content with the arrangements for purchasing season tickets for the coffee concerts.
8 To receive ideas for the future development of Strings Attached
The following ideas were put forward:
- Make something special of the annual season launch concert by engaging an unusual ensemble.
- Invite the BBC to record one or more concerts for future broadcast.
- Provide a platform for young musicians, asking Friends to contribute financially to doing so, if necessary.
- Reserve one concert per season for a student or newly-formed group.
- In order to help grow a younger audience, send publicity to schools that teach music seriously, local youth orchestras and Springboard. In this context, the Chair reported that Strings Attached is currently on a waiting list to take part in the Cavatina scheme that makes it possible for organisations to offer subsidised tickets to young people and Andrew Comben indicated that his team already undertakes promotional work with schools. It was noted that the Nicholas Yonge Society had circumvented the Cavatina waiting list by becoming a corporate sponsor for something in the region of £100.
9 Any further issues for consideration
The following were raised:
- It was noted that the quality of the coffee in the interval left something to be desired. Andrew Comben indicated that the Brighton Dome and Festival caterers would be changing on 1 March.
- Strings Attached was thanked for providing lunch prior to the AGM.
- The Chair thanked Andrew Comben for his support of Strings Attached and his willingness to ensure the survival of the coffee concert series. Andrew, in turn, thanked the Friends of Strings Attached for their support of the concerts. He said that the warmth communicated by the coffee concert audience was commented upon and very much appreciated by performers.
- A vote of thanks to the outgoing committee of Strings Attached was made by Sylvia Weir.