This annual report summarises Strings Attached activity during 2016.
We received detailed, valuable feedback from members as a result of the annual survey in January 2016 and additional discussion at the Annual General Meeting in February. We have passed our views on to Andrew Comben and the team at the Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival.
The key points were:
1. There was a very high level of support (95%) for the concert length during 2015 (3 pieces plus interval for all concerts).
2. The majority continue to be happy with a balance of types of ensemble – more so than in previous years, when a significant minority expressed a preference for more string quartets. That proportion in 2015/16 was less than 10%, with evidence of an appetite for more string based ensembles including other instruments (for example piano trios, clarinet or flute quartets and quintets)
3. A trend seen in previous years continues in which most of us like a little variety in the period of music performed, with some pre-classical and some 20th/21st century music. Stronger support for 20th/21st century than pre-classical music also continues.
4. Most of us were happy generally with the booking and seating arrangements, and most feel that the sherry provided to friends during the interval is an improvement on the coffee and tea of former years. A small minority would prefer to be able to reserve seats.
5. Our newsletter seems very popular with 95% of respondents feeling it is a good idea.
These results reflect a growing sense that the Coffee Concerts at the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange are well established. They are not dissimilar from results in earlier years and we now feel that we have a good sense of the way the audience feels about the concerts. We’ve therefore decided not to issue a survey questionnaire for 2016 / 17 which might simply produce similar results yet again, but instead to invite comments on any aspect of the Coffee Concerts. A future newsletter will contain an invitation to give feedback in writing on any aspect of the Coffee Concerts. All responses will be consolidated into a report and shared with Friends and the Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival.
The major change this year has been the temporary move to the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts at Sussex University whilst refurbishment and improvement works take place at the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange. The move appears to have gone very smoothly, with informal feedback suggesting that most Friends are very happy with facilities and the quality of the concert hall at the ACCA. Initial worries about travel to Falmer seem to have dissipated – our offer to match people in need of a lift with offers of places in cars resulted in several offers of places in cars but no requests for lifts! If anyone is struggling to reach the concerts please contact Margaret Polmear on email@example.com.
The 2016/17 season was opened with a reception for Friends and a concert very kindly sponsored by founder member Mrs Christina Gee and performed by the Doric Quartet. This was the first time the Doric have performed for us and many Friends have told us they found the standard of their performance quite exceptional and hope the Doric can become Coffee Concert regulars.
Cavatina leaflets advertising the concert series and encouraging young people to join the audience on free tickets were distributed in regular concert venues in Brighton and Hove, Lewes and Seaford. There has been strong interest from students at the University of Sussex and a small group has enjoyed the concerts this season. It may strengthen the cause now that the coffee concerts are held in the Attenborough Centre and students see publicity on campus as well as online.
Our website has continued to contain a Calendar of upcoming chamber music concerts in the Brighton/Lewes area with links through to the individual events. It also hosts a Directory of local amateur chamber music players which is particularly useful for newcomers to the area.
As in previous years we have enjoyed useful collaboration with staff at the Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival. As well as the continued personal involvement of Chief Executive Andrew Comben himself, whose particular knowledge and expertise are invaluable, we have been very much helped by the Dome team in looking after the management of the concerts and publicity and programme production.
We must also thank once more our volunteer helpers. Chris Darwin has continued to produce wonderful programme notes (helped this year by Helen Simpson and Guy Richardson) as well as managing our concert diary on the website. David Botibol has continued to manage the website for us and has during 2016 updated its format and appearance. Andrew Polmear, in addition to being responsible for our newsletter, provides an interesting review for our website after every concert, and Richard Amey provides a link to his interesting reviews in the Worthing Herald – if others would like to comment, or join them in reviewing the concerts, we would be very grateful.
Our work is only possible as a result of the kind generosity of Friends – your subscriptions and donations will be helping not only to keep the future of the Coffee Concerts secure but also to provide more wonderful chamber music for people who live around Brighton and Hove. Donations in particular make it possible occasionally to provide extra concerts such as the opening concert to the current season – if you would be interested to sponsor a concert please contact Mary McKean on firstname.lastname@example.org.
On 31 December 2016 we had 83 Friends.
Mary McKean (Chair)
Christine Moon (Treasurer)
Margaret Polmear (Secretary)