Upton House, near Banbury, Warwickshire, OX15 6HT

Annual Meeting 2024 – Chairman’s Report

This has been a year of enjoyment – artistic and social – and modest success. What we do remains as it was: talks, visits and holidays for like-minded art lovers, having fun and raising money for art-related causes. Our last Annual Meeting took place on 4 April 2023.

Events

Our events over the past year are listed in Appendix 1. They have mostly been well-received and I believe that the programme as a whole has been reasonably balanced. Please give us your feedback and your ideas. We really value them.

There is a slight question mark about Zoom meetings. As you may remember, these were introduced in the Covid lockdown, when they certainly filled a gap. Unfortunately we had to cancel the last Zoom meeting that had been arranged because we did not have enough support. We are considering what to conclude from this and I would be grateful for your comments.

Our holiday trip to Yorkshire was organised and run by Gill Ashley-Smith in her inimitable style. I am glad to say that the trip to the Lake District for this June is well-supported. At the meeting I will say a word about other upcoming events.

ARTLOOK

Thanks again to Dianne Page who has confirmed she is happy to remain as editor of ARTLOOK which, apart from emails, is our main channel of communication with you, our members. As well as flagging our upcoming events, she highlights topics of interest in the art world and seeks contributors for more in-depth features. We continue to be most grateful to those of you who have written pieces for past issues of ARTLOOK and encourage others to share with us your experience of an exhibition or a newly discovered art gallery.

Our website

We have, I believe, a good website which is steadily being improved. I find it a very useful point of reference. Much of that is down to Brian Phillips and his mastery of the technicalities. He ensures that the site is up to date. We are also grateful to our consultant, Jason Liversidge, who looks after the site from his base in British Columbia!

Finances

The finances for 2023 are set out in Appendix 2. They show receipts of £45,132, payments of £50,071 and a balance of £5898 carried forward. The main item of expenditure was £12,910 on awards. The main source of income was the tour – a net surplus of £3103.

We do not exist to accumulate funds and I am comfortable that we were able to increase further what we spend on awards. Looking ahead, however, we will probably not be in a position to maintain that level of spending.

I am very grateful both to our Treasurer Sue Yeomans for handling all aspects of our finances so professionally and also to Paul Preston for examining the figures.

Awards

In brief we seek to make awards in the following main fields:

  • Art as therapy. It is well-established that art can help people with a variety of conditions, especially in mental health.
  • Art as a contribution to community development.
  • The promotion of art and the appreciation of art.
  • Support for individual artists and groups of artists. This can, for example, take the form of supporting programmes to help artists with the skills they need to reach their customers effectively.

I am grateful to Faith Matthews and the two other members of the Awards Committee, Veronica Cutler and Brian Phillips. Faith will be present on 23 April and will speak about what has been done and what is in train.

Membership

Thanks to everyone who has renewed their membership and paid the subscription of £20. The number of paid-up members currently stands at 145, compared to 156 last year. We very much hope that our leaflet will help us to increase that number and we urge your help in distributing it further. But the best recruitment method is word of mouth.

Thanks

Many thanks to everyone on the committee – Gill Ashley-Smith, Sandra Clowes (Secretary), Alex Corrin, Dianne Page, Sue Yeomans and Ann Tollett – for their hard work and good humour.

Sue has done great work for many years as Treasurer and Membership Secretary and has also handled bookings for events. She has decided to stand down by the end of the year. We therefore need to find a successor or successors for this work. These are vital roles and are essential for our continued operation. I have a job description which I would be delighted to share with someone who may be interested. Please think about whether you could do this. There will be lots of support.

Alex is also standing down, this time at the AGM. She has made a distinctive and valuable contribution for which we thank her sincerely.

I am glad to say that the other four committee members, plus myself, are prepared to continue on the committee, subject to election at the General Meeting.

Last but not least, thanks to you all for your support.

David Howells