Draft Minutes of AGM on 21st February 2016

Draft Minutes of the STRINGS ATTACHED 2016 AGM, to be approved at the 2017 AGM.

Minutes of the 5th Annual General Meeting held on 21 February 2016 at 1330 in the Brighton Dome Founders Room

Present:          Elizabeth Archer, Janet Benson, Mike Benson, David Betts, Val Betts, John Bosowski, David Botibol, Sandie Botibol, Andrew Comben, Chris Darwin, Kate Darwin, Ian Gilbert, Charles Goldie, Jennifer Goldie, Kay Harley, David Harrison, Muriel Hart, Geoffrey Hatcher, John Hird, John McKean, Mary McKean (Chair), Alison Minns, Christine Moon, Paul Moore, Donald Newbold, Andrew Polmear, Margaret Polmear, Guy Richardson, Helen Simpson, Kate Soper, John Stephens, Charlotte Tyler, Graham Tyler, Daphne Wall, Liz Waring, Michael Wilkinson

Apologies:      Andy Agathangelou, David Crawfurd, Trevor Messenger, Sally Mockford, Ian Stephens, Teresa Stephens, Juliet Sydenham

1          Chair’s welcome

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced the other members of the outgoing committee – Christine Moon (Treasurer), Margaret Polmear (Secretary), Guy Richardson and Helen Simpson. A particularly warm welcome was extended to Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival and a member of Strings Attached.

2          To receive the minutes of the fourth Annual General Meeting held on 22 February 2015 

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

Proposed:        John Bosowski
Seconded:       Helen Simpson

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

The report was received.

The Chair drew attention to the increasing number of younger people attending the concerts through the Cavatina scheme and thanked Guy Richardson and Helen Simpson for their work in advertising the scheme in schools and colleges.

She also mentioned the new interval arrangements introduced in 2015/16 and the launch of the Strings Attached electronic newsletter.

She went on to thank those who undertake work for Strings Attached outside the committee as follows:

  • Chris Darwin for his outstanding programme notes and also for managing the calendar of events and forum for amateur musicians on the Strings Attached website. A number of those present indicated that they make use of the calendar.
  • David Botibol for managing the Strings Attached website with such efficiency. It is hoped shortly to make the website mobile phone friendly.
  • Andrew Polmear for the regular newsletters.

4          To receive the audited financial accounts for the year ended 31 December 2015

The audited financial accounts for the year ended 31 December 2015 were received.

It was noted that some figures for income and expenditure for 2015 look rather different from 2014. The differences result almost entirely from the impact of running the Cavaleri concert in 2014. The underlying figures for routine income and expenditure in the two years are similar.

5          To agree the annual subscription rate for 2016/17

Given Strings Attached’s current bank balance, it was proposed and agreed that the annual subscription for the year 1 August 2016 to 31 July 2017 should remain unchanged at £10 (£5 for students).

Proposed:        Paul Moore
Seconded:       John Hird

6          To appoint members to the committee 

The Chair reported that all members of the outgoing committee were willing to serve for a further year and they were duly appointed.

Proposed:        Muriel Hart
Seconded:       John McKean 

The Chair stressed that further new committee members would be welcome and urged anyone interested in joining to contact her.

A number of those present expressed their thanks to the committee for the work they undertake throughout the year.

7          To consider the results of the January 2016 survey of Friends

The Chair reported that there had been an excellent response to the recent survey and that the main outcomes, which have already been shared with Andrew Comben, were as follows:

  • The vast majority of respondents think the length of concerts about right.
  • Most feel that the current mix of string quartets and other ensembles is about right. Almost 50% of respondents, however, would like more string based ensembles other than string quartets such as piano trios.
  • There is a bigger appetite for 20th and 21st century music than for the pre-classical repertoire.
  • Respondents were overwhelmingly in favour of the new interval arrangements which are thought to add to the convivial nature of the coffee concerts.
  • As in previous years, a number of respondents asked for more raked seating and commented negatively on the free seating arrangements and the need to queue to secure one’s favourite seat. It was thought that some of these issues might be resolved through the forthcoming refurbishment of the Corn Exchange.
  • Almost everyone was appreciative of the newsletter.

The full survey results will shortly be available on the Strings Attached website.

8          Future plans

The Chair said that the committee had agreed to use some of the money in the Strings Attached bank account, accumulated through members’ subscriptions and generosity in making donations, to sponsor a launch concert for the 2016/17 season. This will be held in the Corn Exchange on the evening of Tuesday, 20 September. Further details will be announced in the Strings Attached newsletter.

Andrew Comben then addressed the meeting.

He began by thanking Chris Darwin for his excellent programme notes and Andrew Polmear for the reviews he posted of each concert, both of which he said enhanced the overall coffee concert experience.

He went on to outline the plans for the refurbishment of the Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre which will include new dressing rooms, improved staff access, better  lighting and sound facilities and 500 raked seats. There will also be a new café/restaurant. (The full plans are available online and there will be a link to them in the next Strings Attached newsletter.) This is a £19M project of which £13.5M has so far been raised with a further £2M expected from the Enterprise Partnership. Work, which will be managed by the City Council, the owners of the buildings, is expected to start in the autumn of 2016 and last until the spring of 2018, during which time both the Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre will be out of action. The 2016/17 and 2017/18 coffee concert series will not, therefore, be held in the Corn Exchange. It is currently suggested that one or two concerts each season be held on the stage of the Concert Hall, to maintain the connection with the Brighton Dome estate, and that the remainder be held at the newly-refurbished Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts at the University of Sussex which is one of the venues to be used during the forthcoming Brighton Festival. The venue, he said, is beautiful and acoustically impressive so likely to attract the best ensembles. This was echoed by a number of people who have visited the Attenborough Centre.

Because of the uncertainty surrounding the start date for the Corn Exchange/Studio Theatre refurbishment, Andrew said that he was not able to announce the dates for the 2016/17 season but hoped to be able to do so at the next concert.

In reply to a number of questions from the floor, he said that:

  • he was aware that holding the final concert in the current season on Easter Sunday might inconvenience some people but that it was the only date on which the Heath Quartet was available.
  • the possibility of the refurbished Corn Exchange/Studio Theatre having its own grand piano was being worked on. The refurbishment will ensure safe storage in the correct humidity.
  • there was a possibility that the Attenborough Centre would organise its own chamber music concerts in the future but he hoped any such events would not be in competition with similar events organised by Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival.
  • special transport, distinct from the existing train and bus services, to the Attenborough Centre for any coffee concerts held there could be organised if there was sufficient demand, perhaps through the Big Lemon bus company or car sharing. It was agreed to gauge demand at an appropriate time through the Strings Attached newsletter.
  • the new raked seating planned for the refurbished Corn Exchange will be significantly better than the existing raked seating in the Corn Exchange, as is the raked seating in the Attenborough Centre.
  • it will still be possible to hold coffee concerts in the round in the refurbished Corn Exchange.

9          Any further issues for consideration

Two members, although recognising that this was outside the remit of Strings Attached, expressed dissatisfaction with the standard and price of food and coffee at the cafe in the foyer area. Andrew Comben said that this was useful feedback.

10        Closing remarks

The Chair thanked everyone for everyone for attending the meeting and invited them to further partake of the refreshments provided. In so doing, she reminded everyone that a donation towards lunch of £5 a head was suggested so that Strings Attached’s income could be used for making music happen.