Minutes of AGM on 23 February 2014

Minutes of the 3rd Annual General Meeting held on 23 February 2014 at 1300 in the Brighton Dome Founders Room


David Botibol, Sandra Botibol, Mary Budleigh, Gwyneth Corum, Michael Corum, Chris Darwin, Kate Darwin, Rena Feld, Charles Goldie, Jennifer Goldie, David Harrison, Muriel Hart, John Hird, Mary McCullough, John McKean, Mary McKean (Chair), Christine Moon, Paul Moore, Donald Newbold, Margaret Norman, Andrew Polmear, Margaret Polmear, Guy Richardson, Helen Simpson, Ian Stephens, John Stephens, Maggie Stephens, Teresa Stephens, Charlotte Tyler, Graham Tyler, Daphne Wall, Liz Waring, Sylvia Weir


John Bosowski, Ann Higgins, Martin Higgins

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome and Festival, was unable to be present as an observer.

1 Chair’s welcome

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced the other members of the outgoing committee who were present – Rena Feld (Membership Secretary), John McKean, Christine Moon (Treasurer), Margaret Polmear (Secretary) and Guy Richardson.

2 To receive the minutes of the second Annual General Meeting held on 17 February 2013

The minutes were accepted as a true record of the meeting.

Proposed: Rena Feld
Seconded: Andrew Polmear

3 To receive the Annual Report of the Committee of Strings Attached

The report was received.

Proposed: Graham Tyler
Seconded: Guy Richardson

4 To receive the audited financial accounts for the year ended 31 December 2013

The audited financial accounts for the year ended 31 December 2012 were received.

Proposed: Paul Moore
Seconded: David Harrison

It was noted that income was in excess of expenditure and reported that the level of expenditure remained very much as in previous years.

5 To agree the annual subscription and a change in the membership year

The Treasurer explained that to date the membership year had run from 1 January to 31 December and that this had caused some confusion as it was not aligned with the coffee concert season. As a result, it was proposed that the membership year be changed to 1 August to 31 July. Those whose membership expired on 31 December 2013 would not be asked to renew until 1 August 2014, those who had already paid for 2014 would not be asked to renew until 1 August 2015 and anyone who had paid for 2015 would not be asked to renew until 1 August 2016.

It was further proposed that the annual subscription for the year 1 August 2014 to 31 July 2015 should remain unchanged at £10 (£5 for students).

These proposals were agreed.

Proposed: John Hird
Seconded: Sylvia Weir

6 To consider the coffee concert deal for Friends

The Chair reminded those present that the current deal applies only to those who buy a season ticket and, since the price for many people is very little different to that which can be obtained through various Brighton Dome and Festival concessionary rates, consists mainly of a free interval coffee. She explained that, as a result, discussions were taking place with Brighton Dome and Festival whereby Friends of Strings Attached would be issued with a membership card which would be a different colour each year and could be used for a free interval coffee, irrespective of the number of coffee concerts attended.

There were no objections to this proposed change though one member asked for reassurance that the Brighton Dome and Festival’s concessionary rates would remain.

The Chair explained that she could not guarantee this as it is beyond the power of Strings Attached but would be very surprised if they were not to continue.

7 To appoint members to the committee

The Chair reported that all members of the outgoing committee were willing to serve for a further year with the exception of John Bosowski who was standing down. John McKean, it was noted, had agreed to continue to serve, it having been reported in the invitation to the meeting that he too would be standing down.

It was further noted that there had been no interest from anyone in joining the committee though the Chair stressed that anyone interested could join at any time, and that in particular the committee needs people able to contribute to promoting the Cavatina scheme.

It was unanimously agreed that the committee members who were willing to continue to serve should do so.

Proposed: David Botibol
Seconded: Graham Tyler

8 To reflect on the activity of Strings Attached

(i) The Chair reported that there had been 41 responses to the annual survey and that the majority of respondents had taken considerable trouble in replying. She emphasised that the results were considered not only by the committee of Strings Attached but also by Andrew Comben and his colleagues at Brighton Dome and Festival who endeavoured to respond to suggestions made. As a result, concerts now included an interval and consisted of three pieces rather than two, as requested by most respondents to a previous survey.

The main outcomes of the most recent survey and the ensuing discussion at the meeting were as follows:

  • 100% of respondents think the length of concerts about right.
  • Most are content with the current concert arrangements, including the interval and opportunity to meet the performers after the concert, though queuing to access the venue remains an issue for some, though it was recognised that the performers need a run-through before the concert. One respondent suggested that an announcement be made, perhaps after the interval and before the performers return to the platform, that the performers will be available to talk to audience members after the concert and where this will take place. This prompted someone at the meeting to suggest that Strings Attached might provide a host for the performers after the concert and even offer to buy them a drink.
  • Most feel that the current mix of string quartets and other ensembles, including solo performances, is about right. The Rachel Podger solo violin recital was generally well received as was the Mark Padmore concert the previous year.
  • 55% of respondents want more 20th and 21st century music, an increase on last year. 56% want to hear the pre-classical repertoire only on an occasional basis. In response to the request for more modern music, it was pointed out by a member present at the meeting that when performers propose a programme they often assume that the potential audience will be put off by the inclusion of a contemporary piece and that Andrew Comben and his colleagues might wish to bear this in mind in scheduling the programmes. Another member present asked that not every concert include contemporary music.
  • All respondents like performers to talk to the audience before the performance – about the music, the ensemble or their instruments – though a majority think this should be kept to a minute or two. Members present at the meeting variously pointed out the importance of the performers not repeating what is already in the programme notes, the rapport that speaking creates between the performers and the audience, and the need for the use of a microphone. It was agreed that performers could perhaps be better briefed on this issue and of the need to rotate where they sit between pieces. It was further suggested that Strings Attached might provide a Master of Ceremonies for each concert who would introduce the players, say something about Strings Attached and mention the free interval coffee for members and the availability of the performers to talk to audience members after the concert and where.
  • 78% of respondents are content not to be able to book individual seats in advance. As one respondent put it: being able to book a specific seat sounds good, but the current arrangement eliminates the risk of being saddled with a whole season of sitting next to a concert-goer from Hell.
  • Everyone agrees that the programme notes are very good. Chris Darwin was warmly thanked for providing them and for agreeing to continue to do so.
  • Other comments included general appreciation of the quality of the concerts though some felt the coffee arrangements could be improved. A few disliked concerts being in the round though the majority of those present at the meeting liked the format, finding it more exciting and intimate. It was noted, however, that, when a piano is involved, having the audience in the round is not such a good idea. This led to a more general discussion about the two concerts held in October 2013 which, because of the comedy festival going on at the time, had not been in the round and had involved the use of the bleacher seating which many find uncomfortable and some are not able to use, other than the front row, because of restricted mobility. It was noted that the same issue is likely to occur in October 2014 and suggested that if possible use be made of the stage of the Concert Hall on these occasions, coffee concerts having taken place here in the past. It was agreed to discuss this suggestion with Andrew Comben although one member thought the stage was unlikely to be able to accommodate the number of people now attending concerts.

It was agreed that the full results of the annual survey would be placed on the Strings Attached website.

(ii) The Chair went on to give details of the 2014/15 season as currently known as follows:

October 2014 launch concert
26 October 2014 likely date for a joint concert with BREMF
16 November 2014 Calefax wind ensemble
14 December 2014 Apollon Musagete Quartet return by popular request
18 January 2015 likely date for another string quartet concert
22 February 2015 Britten Oboe Quartet
15 March 2015 students of the Royal College of Music

(iii) The Chair reported that Strings Attached will for the first time be promoting a concert outside the main coffee concert season and that this will take place on 12 September 2014 at the Old Market and will be given by the Cavaleri Quartet. The programme will consist of works by Frank Bridge, Vaughan Williams and Jonathan Harvey, all of whom have connections with Brighton or the immediate area. In order to minimise the financial risk, sponsorship for this event will be sought including from the Friends of Strings Attached.

(iv) Finally, it was noted that Strings Attached has been accepted into the Cavatina scheme which gives children and young people aged 8 – 25 the opportunity to attend concerts free of charge. It is hoped that the scheme will be extensively advertised to schools, colleges, music teachers and the like in the run up to the 2014/15 season. Anyone with knowledge of the local music education scene was asked to pass this on to a committee member or, better still, to join the committee.

9 Closing remark

The Chair thanked David Botibol for having managed the Strings Attached website during the past year and for his willingness to continue to do so.

A vote of thanks to the outgoing committee of Strings Attached was made by Sylvia Weir.