Chairman’s Report May 2019

Dear Member,
During 2018-19 we presented a varied programme of lectures – from Thai Silk to JS Bach, from Shakespeare to Banksy and from Stonehenge to post-war British theatre. We have learned about music, marine painting, literature, art history and gilding. The quality has been consistently high – no lecture has been rated below Excellent, whilst two (Peter Medhurst on JS Bach in November and Giles Ramsay on post-war theatre in December) were rated Outstanding.
As Programme Secretary, I put my own stamp on the style of lectures we have had for the past five years, but as this current Programme draws to a close, it is time for a change in perspective. You will all have had your favourites and there will have been some occasions when the title of a lecture might have sounded very dull – but to your surprise, you learned a lot and it turned out to be quite riveting!
This exciting new Programme 2019 -2020 (enclosed) has been planned by my successor, Ann Tasker. She has the best job of all and I know she’ll enjoy it as much as I have done.
Looking back over the year, the Evening Celebration to mark 50 years since the foundation of NADFAS was held at St. Mary’s School, Shaftesbury on a glorious spring evening in May. Peter Medhurst treated us to his repertoire of songs from Gilbert and Sullivan followed by drinks and canapes on the lawn organised jointly by Liz Pocock and Clare Liddell.
At the beginning of October, Penny Brentnall invited Paul Atterbury from The Antiques Roadshow to give us two lectures on The Golden Age of Travel. Some of the members brought along vintage memorabilia which was discussed and valued, after a delicious lunch cooked by Donna and organised to perfection as always, by Penny.
Our visit to The Silk Mill at Whitchurch took place in early October. It was a delightful autumn day, the sun shone, there were trout in the Test and we had lunch on a double-decker bus converted into a tiny restaurant. Mary Anderson had organised more – a visit to the Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery just up the road………all in all, a great day out which was voted a huge success.
Our Church Recorders, led by Pat Gee and Felicity MacSwiney have completed an excellent record of St. Mary’s Church, Sturminster Newton. It has been a huge task, often involving working in Spartan conditions and is a tremendous achievement for which we offer our congratulations and thanks. New members have joined the team and work has now begun on St. Mary’s at Hinton St. Mary.
Jill de Bretton-Gordon has been a pioneer with Young Arts projects for many years and has made such an impact on the Schools and Sixth Forms across the Blackmore Vale that she has been awarded the Wessex Wyvern Award for her outstanding contribution. The national curriculum is no longer geared to offering much in the way of providing access to The Arts in schools. However, as a charity, we are able to help fill the gap a little by funding and raising awareness of The Arts by sponsoring events. In November, we sponsored the Guggleton Gallery Young Arts Exhibition and prizes were awarded to under 25-year-old exhibitors. We also held pottery and painting days at local primary schools. These types of events are made possible by your Gift Aid donations which form such an important part of our charitable giving in The Blackmore Vale.
Our Membership now stands at 259. The fees have remained the same for the last nine years and we have decided not to increase the renewal subscription this year. However, next year we will have to increase our fees as lecturers’ fees and travel expenses have increased significantly. We have also had to charge a little more for coffee and biscuits as there has been an eco-friendly transition from plastic to paper cups. On behalf of everyone, I should like to thank Alix Brooke and Pat Gee for serving refreshments so cheerfully every month.
Our Treasurer, Jill Harris, took over from Chris Sledge last year. I’d like to thank Jill for dealing with all the complexities of accounting and for presenting such meticulous accounts which were audited again this year, very kindly, by David Duvall.
Philip Gray and his projection team strive hard at monthly lectures, DOSIs and special Evening Lectures to ensure that the images on the screen and sound systems are always working well. There is a great deal of behind-the scenes work involved and they are always the first to arrive and last to leave.
Lincoln Waller has worked tirelessly to maintain our Website and given training to many of the Committee Members. We are always grateful for offers of additional help from Members and would love to welcome new faces to ‘shadow’ the various roles. There are currently 90,000 members of The Arts Society worldwide. This is your Society – have a say in how it is run!
With very best wishes
Sheila Williams
Member Society of The Arts Society Reg. Charity No: 1103740