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Chairman’s Update, August 2020

Dear Member,

Online Lecture
Our online lectures continue to be very popular with record numbers of members, friends and guests logging in to watch both our last lecture and the virtual walk of the East End of London; I am most grateful to you all for your continuing support for our online lecture programme.

For those of you who watched the virtual walk presentation by Pepe Martinez, he would very much welcome reviews as he is not an Arts Society approved lecturer and therefore does not get feedback through The Arts Society. You can leave a review on Trip Advisor using the following link:

Pepe Martinez on Trip Advisor

I am delighted to announce that we will be broadcasting our next online lecture on Wednesday 2nd September at 11.00am which is, of course, the opening lecture in our 2020/21 season. As with our previous online lectures, you are very welcome to invite friends and family to watch it with you or, if you prefer, to forward them the link to You Tube to enable them to watch separately.

More details can be obtained by clicking on this link to our website:
Online Lecture, Wednesday 2nd September

As is now our established practice, this lecture will be streamed live via YouTube which should make it easy for you to access as it can be viewed by any standard web browser; there is no need to download or set up any additional software. A link to enable you to access the broadcast will be emailed to members a few days before the lecture.

Membership
Thank you so much to all members who have renewed your membership for the 2020/21 season. The vast majority of members did renew with the only significant fall out being, perhaps understandably, those members without emails/computer access; I very much hope that, when we return to physical meetings, many of those will re-join our society.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our membership secretary, Margot Radomska, for all her sterling and extensive work on the membership renewals.

Warwick District Council (WDC)
Some of you may be aware that WDC is developing a strategy for establishing a creative centre and hub in South Leamington, which already has a nucleus of businesses in this sector.  We are in touch with WDC to see what and whether this is something that we want to be involved in and, if so, how.  I will keep you updated on this as matters progress.

I do hope that you enjoy the lecture.

Best wishes and stay safe and well.

Shaun Pitt
Chairman
27th August 2020

Chairman’s Update, July 2020

Dear Member,

I do hope that, for those of you who logged in to the online lecture on Wednesday 1st July, you enjoyed it – I thought it was a fascinating insight into a piece of the artistic history and culture of the UK that I knew very little about.

This is a brief update on three important matters:

AGM results
Many thanks to those of you who took the time to vote in our first ever online/postal AGM. We had 314 votes cast, 95 by post and 219 online so a really good turnout and thank you all again for that.

All the resolutions were passed by overwhelming majorities; I have chosen not to include the details of voting on each resolution in this update but if anyone wishes to see the detailed results please contact the secretary; these results will, as usual, be included in the minutes of this AGM which will go out with the papers for the 2021/22 AGM.

As a result of the AGM, John Clark has now formally stepped down as Short Breaks secretary and that role is now shared by Roz Crampton and Kate Varney as Joint Secretaries. I am also delighted to welcome Dr. Susan Dunnett to the Committee who has been elected as the Days of Special Interest Secretary.

Subscriptions
The resolution to set the subscription at £48 for 2020/21, with a reduction to £35 for existing members in 2019/20 renewing their membership, was approved at the AGM.

As usual, subscriptions are due by no later than the end of July 2020 and I, and probably even more so, the membership secretary would be most grateful if you could arrange to pay your subscription by the due date.

2020/21 Programme Card
We are currently in the process of compiling the 2020/21 programme card and expect to mail it out to members on August 20th. This will, as usual, contain all the key information on our programme of events for 2020/ 21.

You will see from it that our current planning assumption is that the first time we think it is realistic for us to be able to return to the Spa Centre is for the February 2021 lecture. You will also see that there will be an online lecture every month up to, and including, January 2021. Details of all lectures are now available on this website.

Clearly events may change such that we can return to the Spa Centre either earlier or later than our current assumption but, in any event and as I have said before, our first priority will be to make sure that you, our members, can participate safely.

As always, if you have any concerns or matters that you wish to raise please do not hesitate to contact me.

Best wishes and stay safe and well.

Shaun Pitt
Chairman
3rd July 2020

The PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) Update

June 2020 – What we are doing

Dear Member,

I hope that you and your family are keeping safe, well and managing to cope in these difficult times.

As the title of this update suggests, the purpose of this is not to provide a depressing litany of what we have not been able to do but rather to celebrate what we have been able to do and are doing!

AGM

We are going to have our AGM, as scheduled on 1st July 2020 and you will already have received information about this. It will be our first AGM not to be held as a physical meeting but, instead, organised as a largely online AGM with some postal voting alternatives for those members not on email.

The postal voting papers have already been despatched and those of you on email will shortly receive an email with details of the link to enable you to cast your vote. We are using Survey Monkey as the means of enabling members to vote electronically so do not be concerned if you find that the link in the email takes you to Survey Monkey – that is exactly as intended!

How you cast your votes is, of course, entirely a matter for you to decide. Can I please repeat my earlier plea for you to cast your vote so that we are able to fulfil our constitutional requirement of having at least 25% of our members (that is about 150 members) voting to make the AGM quorate.

Online lectures.

We had a very successful online lecture on ‘Beethoven at 250’ by Sandy Burnett on 3rd June 2020 with 174 people logging in to watch the lecture which probably amounts to over 200 individuals as many members watch as couples. This lecture was accessible to members on You Tube, mainly as a result of the innovative technical work carried out by Keith Roberts. The availability of this on You Tube made it much easier for members to access (if you can open a page on the internet, you can access You Tube!) and we will now use this mechanism for all our online lectures, for as long as we need to have them.

We have already arranged for an online lecture on 1st July by Monica Bohm-Duchen on ‘Insiders/Outsiders: Refugees from Nazi Europe and their contribution to British visual culture’ and you will, as before, get an email about a week before the lecture with the necessary link to enable you to access it.


Traditionally, we have not had lectures in August, December or January. However, we have made the decision, given the current circumstances, to have online lectures in each of these three months. Eithne Batt, your programme secretary, is working hard to book lecturers to deliver these new lectures. The first of these three lectures will be on Wednesday 5th August at 11.00am and is on ‘The Good Life: Grimson and the Barnsleys-Inventing the Cotswold Style’ with Anne Anderson; details of the other two lectures will be sent to you nearer the time. These lectures (which are additional to our usual programme schedule) will be held as online lectures even if we have been able to resume our traditional lectures at the Spa Centre by then.

Finally, under this heading, please do not forget the other online offerings available to you. Links to the Heni talks (many of which I have watched myself and thoroughly enjoyed – they range between 5-30 minutes long) and the new national Arts Society Connected website are at the top of this page. The national site will be limited to members only from September onwards.

Twitter

Just to prove that lockdown has at least one positive outcome, Pat Whorton who is the chairman of our publicity group, took the opportunity of the enforced spare time to take an online national Arts Society course on using Twitter. As a result, our society now has a presence on said Twitter-so if you have or know of material that you think would be useful for her to put out on our Twitter account please let her know.

We all hear a lot about social media these days and the national Arts Society is encouraging local societies such as ours to embrace it to spread the word about what we are, what we do and thus to entice new members to join.

Most of the arts institutions are on Twitter and they have put out a plethora of material, particularly in the current environment, including online exhibitions, lectures, blogs etc. Many Arts Society lecturers are active on Twitter; for example, Alexandra Epps tweets a number of delightful images throughout the day. Art UK is also very active and starts all sorts of artistic ‘conversations’ that you can join in with. You can, of course, also follow people and organisations in different fields of interest not just the arts.

Pat says that by following some interesting people and organisations she has discovered the East London Group of artists and John Henry Norman, the founder of the Avant Garde Coventry Art Circle of the 1930’s. She has also found out why there is a parachute shaped fountain in Jephson Gardens!

So, if you are already on Twitter please follow us and if not, take your courage in both hands and give it a try! We are at The Arts Society Royal Leamington Spa@TASLeamington1

Warwickshire Open Studios

One of the casualties of the current situation has been the above event which I know many members have enjoyed in the past.

However, the brochure for this, which is well worth a view in its own right, is available at:

http://www.server123.co.uk/wos2020/?page=!

Membership renewal form

Members will shortly receive this either by email or through the post and I very much hope that you will renew your membership and thus retain access to all the things I have referred to above.

If you decide to renew, can you please make sure that, as well as paying the subscription, you complete and return the renewal form; it is one of the most important ways for us to check that we have your details such as your address and email correct (particularly in the current circumstances) on our membership database.

Many thanks in advance.

If you are not already a member and would like to join our Society, please visit our Membership page.

When you get your 2020/21 programme card in due course it will set out our current plans for 2020/21 but also recognises that our activities will be dependent on Government regulation and advice and, particularly in relation to our lecture programme, on when and under what conditions the Spa Centre reopens. Also, and as usual, the details of the planned 2020/21 programme will be available on this website before you get your programme card so if you want the earliest data on the programme the website is the place to go to. In general terms, our website is the place to find the most up to date information on every aspect of your society.

I hope that you will see that, despite coronavirus, your society remains very active.

Thank you for all your support over this difficult period.

Best wishes and stay well.

Shaun Pitt
Chairman

8th June 2020

Update on the impact of the coronavirus on The Arts Society Royal Leamington Spa

Dear Member,

I am sure you will appreciate, the situation with the coronavirus is fluid and there have been a number of important changes recently which require us to take further action.  Our first priority is, and will remain, to make sure that we minimise health risks to you and all our members.

It is clear that this situation is not going to be resolved in a matter of weeks; the peak of the infection is now forecast to be late May and the advice to vulnerable groups (including those over 70 which constitute quite a proportion of our membership) to stay away from social contact wherever possible for 12-16 weeks suggests a time frame of 3-4 months which takes us to the end of July.  

Very recently the Spa Centre informed us that it was closing (and it now has) but without a date when it will reopen.

In view of the above, your committee has decided to cancel all our lectures for the rest of this season (i.e. up to and including July 2020) in the hope that we can restart at the beginning of our next season on 2nd September. As I mentioned previously, we are aiming to broadcast the April lecture live on the internet and we will see if we can arrange for the same to happen with some or all of the other three lectures; as soon as we know and have appropriate details I will let you know.

We are also cancelling the day trips to Chatsworth (currently scheduled for 20th May) and Weston Park (scheduled for 19th August) but with a view to re-scheduling these trips for equivalent dates in 2022. Those members who have paid for the Chatsworth trip will get a full refund in the near future.  It also means that the biennial dinner, scheduled for 18th June, will also not now take place.

At present we are still going ahead with the short break to East Sussex from 13th-18th September and there are tickets still available for this – if you would like to go on this trip please contact Roz Crampton at or on 01926 833609

While I do not suggest that it will be much comfort to you, I understand that a number of the other arts societies in the UK are taking a similar approach to this issue.
 
I am also aware that members will have paid their subscription for the 2019-20 year but will now not be able to access all the lectures and events that were implicit in that subscription. Your committee, led in this matter by our treasurer, Charles Bartholomew, will be developing proposals in respect of 2020-21 which take proper account of these circumstances.
 
If you have any questions  please do contact me – my contact details are on your programme card or use the contact form on this website.

Shaun Pitt
Chairman
21st March 2020

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