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Update – December 2019

As the nights draw in and the temperatures fall and as we start, at least in meteorological terms, the beginning of winter, I hope you will welcome a warm and cheerful update of what your society has been doing so far this year and to look forward to some of the events in 2020.

As always, and as you will see from this update, there has been a lot going on since the start of the season in September. One of the most pleasing things is that we have had a steady inflow of new members with the result that we are going to have two New Members’ Coffee mornings in 2020. The first of these will be on Thursday 2nd April 2020 and the second on Thursday 8th October 2020 both at Charlecote Village Hall at 10.30am. A ‘hold the date’ email will shortly go out to the relevant new members for the first of these dates and members joining from now until September 2020 will also be invited to attend one of these mornings. If you are a new member and do not get the above email please do let our membership secretary, Margot Radomska, know.

It is also very pleasing to note that we have had record attendances at the lectures so far this season which I hope indicates that you are finding the topics both enjoyable and interesting. We had a particularly large attendance at the 6th November lecture which you may recall we badged as the ‘bring a friend’ lecture and many of you responded by doing exactly that! – thank you very much for doing so and to your friends for coming along; a number of them have now joined as new members. In view of this success, we plan to have another ‘bring a friend’ lecture in the 2020/21 season and, who knows, it may become a fixture of our lecture programme.

It is always useful to get your feedback on our lectures and other events but, until now, we have relied on anecdotal comments. While these have been most helpful, we wanted to make it easy to gather your comments on what your society is doing – or, maybe, not doing. For those of you who could not make the November lectures, I did announce there that we have established a comment form on the website that you can use to comment on any aspect of what we do – lectures, volunteering or anything else. This form is the last item under the ‘menu’ listing on the left of this page so please do use it to let us know what you think. Unlike ‘Twitter’ your comments will only be seen by the committee and you have my personal undertaking that every comment will be read and responded to-so over to you!

I think that you will all be aware that there is the facility for you to book a lunch at the Spa Centre but one of the issues has been that you have had to book up at the preceding lecture and, as this is a minimum of a month ahead, it seems to have deterred some members from taking advantage of this. Accordingly we have taken the opportunity to make the above mentioned comment form into a dual purpose form in that you can also use it to book up a lunch as late as midnight on the Wednesday immediately preceding a lecture which will, hopefully, encourage more of you to enjoy lunch ‘in house’ as it were.

You will, by now I am sure, all be aware that the registration process for attending a lecture is now much simpler and more streamlined so that we can get members into the Spa Centre quickly and efficiently. For some time now, we have asked that members bring their national Arts Society card, which has your name and membership number on it, with them to evidence their membership; to help anyone who is not sure what these are, here are two photographs below showing what this card looks like. If for any reason, you cannot find your card please let Margot Radomska know and she can get you a replacement.

The Arts Society Membership Card

The vast majority of members come prepared to present this card and the process works smoothly. Unfortunately, there have been a few isolated incidents recently where members, who have been asked for their cards, have reacted with aggressive behaviour and unacceptable language and I would ask that this cease forthwith.

Amazing though it may seem we are now 1/3rd of the way through our lecture programme for 2019/20 and, as I have already remarked on, they have been very popular. The last lecture before the winter break was a most impressive and entertaining insight into the ‘Secret Art in the Passport: How We Use it to Fox the Forger’.

Courtesy of programme secretary, Eithne Batt, I am confident that we have an equally appealing set of lectures for the rest of our season. It starts on 5th February 2020 with Michelle Brown on the intriguing sounding topic of ‘Art of the Islands: An Introduction to Early Medieval Art in Britain and Ireland c500-850’.

As always, your programme card does contain full details of the lecture programme and there are synopses of all the lectures on this website.

Your programme card and the website also have details of planned day visits, days of special interest, short breaks and other events and, most importantly, when tickets for these events are being sold. Do please come early if you want tickets for any of these events as they are generally very popular and sell out quickly.

Two important changes/additions to the programme card:

1. As many members may already know, Wroxall Abbey has closed and is in administration. So the biennial dinner which was scheduled to be at Wroxall Abbey on Thursday 18th June 2020 at 7 for 7.30pm will now be held on Tuesday 16th June 2020 at the same time but at the alternative venue of Leamington Golf Club and, as per the programme card, tickets will be on sale at the April lecture and later lectures if tickets remain.

2. We are sponsoring the spring concert by the Coventry and Warwickshire Youth Orchestra (‘CWYO’) at 7pm on 15th March 2020 at All Saints Church in Leamington. The concert will include Elgar’s cello concerto and Beethoven’s 5th symphony.  This organisation does a great deal to help and support young musicians in Coventry and Warwickshire but has recently had funding withdrawn by The Coventry Music Hub and the Warwickshire Music Hub so our sponsorship is helping to enable them to continue to support young people.  Tickets will be available on the door; I will update you on the precise Mechanics nearer the date.

Belvoir Castle
Belvoir Castle

After the successful, if very damp, day visit to Belvoir in August, the next day visit is to Chatsworth on 20th May 2020. This is in response to requests from members for a repeat visit following the inspiring day of special interest on Chatsworth in October 2018. Tickets will be on sale at the March lecture and later lectures if tickets remain.

On short breaks, the next trip is to Rome in April 2020 and this trip is now fully subscribed.

The Autumn trip is to Eastbourne and East Sussex from 13th-18th September 2020 and tickets for this will be on sale at the February lecture and later lectures if tickets remain.

Both our heritage volunteers and church recorders have remained busy through the Autumn. 

The heritage volunteers at The Herbert Museum have been working flat out designing, sourcing material and making nine elf costumes for the Sleigh Ride at the Coventry Transport Museum which opened very recently on Monday 2nd December. With the nine completed, Katie Bye (the project leader) asked for a further two so the whole process began again! The payback was, however, that she did say that the completed ones were fantastic! 

This was a huge undertaking for the volunteers involved who, to use their own words feel “It is good to support the museum in what is a 30 year tradition and many people in Coventry feel that Christmas would not be complete without a trip to the sleigh ride” Many congratulations to the volunteers for all their hard work and dedication. 

The volunteers at the Leamington Museum have been making storage bags for the museum’s weaponry collection. Each weapon, rifle, sword etc needs its own custom-made bag which is then hung from a rack, saving valuable storage space. After all their labours, both these groups are now taking a well-earned break until the New Year.

Our church recorders continue compiling the record at the large All Saints church in Sherbourne, meeting fortnightly for about two hours by which time fingers have usually gone numb!

There are currently no recorders working on the memorial plaques and tombs (26 in total) so this work is being shared out amongst the existing members when they have ‘spare’ time which does, at least, enable them to do research on line at home in the warmth!

The work will cease in mid December and restart in February when, hopefully, the weather is more congenial.

Last, but by no means least, the Midlands Area of The Arts Society has decided to follow a number of other areas (NW, SW, NE and Wessex) in producing a glossy booklet to be titled ’50 Treasurers of the West Midlands’ and we have decided to support this initiative. To do this effectively we need your input in terms of identifying and photographing potential items that might merit inclusion in such a publication. We will be sending out more details in a separate email on how you, as our members, can contribute to this project so the purpose of this is simply to put you on notice that further details will be forthcoming soon.

Finally, however you choose to celebrate the season, my best wishes to you and your families for a very Happy Christmas and New Year.

Shaun Pitt

Chairman