Chairman’s Update, December 2020

The Arts Society Royal Leamington Spa
Update on our next online lecture and a Christmas special to cheer everyone up!

Dear Member,

This update contains the following:

an introduction from the Chairman

an update on returning to the Spa Centre

a reminder of some key information on our online lectures

details of our next online lecture on 2nd December 2020

our Christmas special

other online offerings for you to consider

1. Introduction from the Chairman

Welcome to the November update with, as usual, details of our next online lecture.

I very much hope that you are all managing to cope with the continuing restrictions under lockdown. I know that these are particularly difficult times for people living alone; I do hope that, for those members in this position, you in particular, enjoy feeling part of a larger group of like-minded people when you log into our online lectures.

The recent announcement of a potential vaccine against Covid19 has been most encouraging although it is clearly not an immediate solution. However, it has made us start talking to the Spa Centre about a possible return to physical lectures in the foreseeable future and I have included an update on this.

I have also included some other online offerings from past lecturers for you to access if you so wish.

2. Returning to the Spa Centre

I have had several questions from members as to when we think it will be possible to return to physical lectures at the Spa Centre.

As I indicated last month, the first critical step in this process was the announcement from the Council that the future of the Spa Centre was secure and that it would re-open by 31st March 2021.

We have recently re-started our usual dialogue with the staff at the Spa Centre and are looking at dates for our future lectures in 2021 and 2022. Our current hope is to be able to return to The Spa Centre for our lecture on 5th May 2021. All lectures prior to that date will be online.

Clearly whether or not this is possible will depend on how the pandemic progresses, when and how effective the vaccination programme proves to be and any government legislation and guidance that may be in place at that time. Therefore the situation will continue to be very fluid but I will continue to keep you up to date on our plans in this regard.

I can assure you that our absolute first priority will be to ensure any return will not prejudice your health and wellbeing.

3. Information on our online lectures

The link that you need to access our online lectures is always contained in the email invitation that is sent out by Keith Roberts approximately five to six days before the date of the lecture.

Both lecturers and the Society have always needed to be aware of both copyright and intellectual property issues in delivering lectures and that is even more important in a digital environment. As regular viewers of the online lectures will know, these are broadcast live via YouTube at a specified time (typically 11:00am on the relevant day).

However we are aware that not everyone may be free to view at the time of the live broadcast and so we negotiate with the lecturer to retain a copy of the lecture on YouTube for a specified period. The result is that the period of retention varies from lecturer to lecturer and after that period has expired the recording has to be deleted from YouTube and is no longer available to view.

The time for which the recording can be viewed is always included in these updates and in Keith Roberts’ email (you will see under item 4. that, in the case of our December lecture, it will be available for 24 hours after the live broadcast) so, if you cannot view the live broadcast and wish to access the recording, please make sure that you do so within the relevant time frame to – as they say – avoid disappointment!

We have always welcomed visitors and friends to our lectures and we continue to do so while our lectures are online. If, as a member, you invite non-member friends to view a lecture, we would be most grateful if you could encourage your friends to join the Society; we have recently had several new members join after watching previous online lectures.

4. Online lecture on Wednesday 2nd December
I am pleased to announce that our next online lecture will be broadcast live, on YouTube, on Wednesday 2nd December at 11.00am. By the kind agreement of the lecturer, the lecture will remain on YouTube for 24 hours following the live broadcast but will not be available after that time.
More details can be found on this link to our website.

You are very welcome to invite friends and family to watch the lecture with you or, if you prefer, forward them the link to enable them to watch it separately.  In either event, I would be most grateful if you would encourage your friends to join the Society.
The lecture is entitled ‘Johann Sebastian Bach’s Glorious Christmas Oratorio’ which I hope you will agree is an appropriately seasonal title!
Our lecturer will be Sandy Burnett who I am sure many of you will recognise and remember from his excellent lecture to us in June 2020 on ‘Beethoven at 250’ and I look forward to welcoming him back to our Society.  Sandy is a well-known broadcaster and author in the field of classical music.
A link to enable you to access the broadcast will be emailed to you a few days before the 2nd December.

5. Our Christmas Special

In normal circumstances each alternative year, we have a day visit in the run up to Christmas – the last trip in 2018 was a very successful one to Blenheim Palace all decorated for Christmas. Clearly such a trip is not possible in the current abnormal year but we thought that we should still have some event with a Christmas theme to it.

Accordingly, on Friday 18th December at 11:00am, we will be having a virtual Christmas tour, entitled ‘The Spirit of Christmas’

This will be celebrating all things Christmassy. It will be presented by London Blue Badge guides Pepe Martinez and Simon Whitehouse. Many of you will remember Pepe from his wonderful virtual tour of the old East End that he did in August.

More details on the two presenters can be found on our website via this link:
Virtual Day Visit – 18th December 2020

The presentation will be in two parts. Part 1 will explore the history of all those Christmas traditions that we now take for granted such as Christmas crackers, mince pies, Christmas cards and the ubiquitous Christmas tree. There will then be an interval of about 15 minutes and I suggest that you might like to use some of this time to get a mince pie and whatever your favourite festive tipple is to fully enter into the Christmas spirit! Part 2 – well actually the contents of Part 2 are a secret (including from me!) so we will all just have to log in and find out!

This presentation will be broadcast live on YouTube from 11:00am and will last (including the interval and questions) for about 2 hours. It will be retained on YouTube for 48 hours after the live broadcast so if you are not able to see the live broadcast you will be able to see it during that period.

As usual, Keith Roberts will email out the link to enable you to access this a few days before the 18th December.

6. Lecturers online offerings
A number of our lecturers also have other lectures, talks, tours etc on the arts and arts related topics online and, for those of you who wish to access such items I have set out below the offerings of two of our recent lecturers in particular:
Sian Walters (Sian delivered our first ever virtual lecture in April) has just launched a new mini series of online webinars in collaboration with friends and colleagues around the world on a variety of arts subjects. Prices are from £10 and for more information and booking please visit
Pepe Martinez has also launched a series of virtual tours which can be booked singly or covering a group of these tours. Most importantly, for bookings made before 1st December there are ‘early bird’ discounts available. For more detailed information on what is available and to book, contact Pepe on
Finally, may I also be an early bird in terms of Christmas as this will be my last update until after Christmas, and wish all of you a very Happy Christmas and I hope that you are able to celebrate it in whatever way you choose and with whomsoever you choose.

Whatever you do, stay safe and well.

Shaun Pitt
24th November 2020