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Chairperson's Report for AGM 3rd October 2014 - Philip Eley


I consider the group to have had a successful year if we acknowledge our limitations. We haven’t been able to concretely advance our first aim: 1. To find a building to be used as a dedicated arts venue in Torbay, although this wasn’t an accident but a deliberate strategy. Some of the group felt that at one point things were progressing too fast and that we needed to get some solid foundations in place before we could advance this aim. But it also needs acknowledging that feeling no closer to achieving this aim has felt demoralising at times. In terms of building the foundations some networking has been achieved and we continue to discuss how best to structure the group, with thanks going to Richard James for his on-going efforts with this.

A greater focus was placed this year on advancing our second, third and fourth aims: 2. To advance public engagement with the Arts; 3.To promote interest in and publicise the Arts; 4.To promote the knowledge, understanding and participation in the Arts in Torbay. Since our first AGM the group have participated in two group shows, thanks go to Peter Stride in his efforts in organising these. I think it was a positive experience for the group to have a clear focus while working towards these events. The group also organised an art market in Paignton which was a success, and the opportunity remains for similar events to be repeated. My personal feeling is that future art markets in particular are a relatively simple way of getting our message out there and providing a service.

In my opening sentence I reference the group’s limitations and I think the largest of these is our size. My biggest regret of the year is that less members are regularly engaging with the group than were 12 months ago. I think there are a number of reasons for this. I think one reason is that the committee have understandably (and I think rightly) taken the focus off our first aim for the year. Another reason could be that the structure of the meetings has changed from being a two hour open meeting to a committee meeting followed by a one hour open meeting. To keep any momentum the committee is committed to this structure but I think we are yet to fully come to grips with what we can offer people in the second hour as a reason to participate.  I also think we need to consider the wider question of membership and carefully consider what membership of the group means. 

One of the positive dynamics of the year has been the special relationship with Artizan Gallery. Although the two things are separate ventures there is a natural link as the group use Artizan as a venue for meetings. Thanks to Julie Brandon for allowing the group free use of the premises and being such a good host. I hope the on-going relationship between TAA and Artizan continues to be a positive dynamic for both.

As we look to the future I think we need to focus on growing as a group in order to avoid over-stretching ourselves. In order to do this I think we need to focus on what the group can realistically and concretely offer people. I would like to see at least twice as many active members of the group. Once we achieve this I feel we have good contacts and ideas to build on the progress we have made this year, particularly in reference to aims 2,3 and 4, with a long-term view of aim 1.   Our fifth aim is 5: To attract ongoing funding and revenue streams with which to sustain an arts venue and to trade whenever needed to provide a sustainable financial future. I think this last aim is more likely to become a reality as we become better organised and clearer in our focus.   

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