Report of the Committee for 2015

This annual report summarises Strings Attached activity during 2015.

We received detailed, valuable feedback from members as a result of the annual survey in January 2015 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 Festival.

The key points were:

  1. As in previous years, there was a very high level of support for the concert length during 2014 (3 pieces plus interval for all concerts).
  2. The majority continue to be happy with a balance of types of ensemble including string quartets and some other ensembles. A minority (about 20%) would prefer more string quartets or other string ensembles. There was also strong support for string ensembles including other instruments (e.g. piano or woodwind). There is less support for solo performances.
  3. Most of us like a little variety in the period of music performed, with some pre-classical and some 20th/21st century music. There is stronger support for 20th/21st century than pre-classical music.
  4. Most of us were happy generally with the booking and seating arrangements and the printed programmes and notes were especially popular.

These results reflect a growing sense that the Coffee Concerts at the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange re now a well established and loved presence in the Brighton and Hove music calendar. Audiences have grown visibly over the year, with sell outs on more than one occasion. This is very pleasing. Results of the 2015/16 survey will be presented at the Annual General Meeting.

Cavatina is a national scheme which subsidises the attendance of young people between the ages of 8-25 to chamber music concerts. Strings Attached has joined the scheme, and over the last year there have been up to 25 applicants for free tickets to Coffee Concerts. This year Strings Attached in conjunction with Brighton Dome and Festival printed leaflets advertising the scheme. These were distributed, before the start of the new season, around Brighton and Hove, Lewes and Henfield at concert societies, churches and other venues. We also posted some leaflets to local schools, colleges and the universities. At present we are exploring links with the Lewes Chamber Music Festival on the possibility of collaborating on an outreach programme.

This year we have introduced a regular members newsletter produced for us, very kindly, by Andrew Polmear. This is sent to all members on our mailing list who have provided us with an email address.

We have enjoyed useful collaboration with staff at the Brighton Dome and Festival. As well as the continued personal involvement of 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.

Following discussions at last year’s Annual General Meeting we have negotiated with the Dome and Festival to change the interval arrangements from a free coffee to a glass of sherry (or soft drink) served in a separate location from the main foyer. This seems to have gone down well with Friends both in terms of the drink provided and the social opportunity – we look forward to receiving your comments in the 2015-16 annual survey.

We must also thank once more our much-valued volunteer helpers. Chris Darwin has continued to produce wonderful programme notes for each concert as well as managing our concert diary on the website. David Botibol has continued to manage the website for us. Andrew Polmear, in addition to his efforts 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 – we hope to be able to make an announcement about this at the Annual General Meeting.

On 31 December 2015 we had 100 Friends – 41 fewer than 2014.

Current Committee:

Mary McKean (Chair)    Christine Moon (Treasurer)   Margaret Polmear (Secretary)
Guy Richardson   Helen Simpson

Mary McKean