SAGT Chairman’s Report 2019-2020

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Dear Reader(s)

This report covers –broadly –  April, 2019 until March, 2020. I continue to be grateful for SAGT’s existence in a county where, in varied & vibrant small scale ways, the fine arts have a rhythm and continuity that augur well. Yet we exist against a UK backdrop where funding for the arts has become much harder to obtain. We need something extra:  both Governmental good will for and committed interest in the arts, for our SAGT dreams to be realised.

However, voluntary organisations such as ours keep our heads down and get on with what matters to us. In that respect we have had another good year. There was a strong 2019 programme of five talks for both members and interested persons. These took place at Trull Church Community Centre which has become our base for these evenings. We made small profits from these talks, and now have a healthy bank balance with £5,660.19 in our main account and £2,988.46 in our subsidiary one. We ran two enjoyable painting days in the Summer and combined our AGM with the option of seeing a Rembrandt film afterwards. Christine Marsh again ran a coffee morning for us, and our other social event was Christmas Lunch at the Quantock restaurant at Bridgwater and Taunton College.

To keep in touch with our members we compiled four newsletters. Nearly all our recipients receive them online. Our webmaster once more was Toby Veale of Dexterous Designs. Laura Crofts liaised on our behalf with Taunton Youth Culture And Arts (TYCA), a first year Festival of youth events, which has funding for some four more years.

Our thanks go first to our speakers and their audiences. We invest in these talks and our speakers invest in preparing them and then giving them an audile and visile life. These talks are a kind of art form with craft included. In 2019 Trish Jones (18 February) spoke about Louise Bourgeois and Yahoi Kusama, Grand Old Dames of Modern Art; Sara Dudman (18 March) spoke of Howard Hodgkin: A Painter’s Painter; and 20 May Wayne Bennett gave A Short History of British Art Museums. After a break we continued with the annual Ken Grieb lecture on 5 October given by Jan Cox on Thomas Fearnley & the Golden Age of Danish Art. On 23 November I rounded the cycle off with Mondrian and Nicholson: Birds of a Feather?

Thanks, too, to our sponsors Dexterous Designs; to Mail Boxes who produce our leaflets and pocket-sized annual  programme; to Christine Marsh for her hospitality; to Arts Taunton, the Brewhouse, the Museum of Somerset and SAW, partners and supporters of our cause. Thanks as always to our committee who work well and enjoyably on your behalf, and are willing to continue in office, if re-elected. Special thanks to Anna Mullett for her membership duties, editing our newsletters and distributing our information; to Sandra Spalding for her work as Treasurer; and to Tami Boden-Ellis, David Smith, and Kevin Saunders for their  backstage roles, suggestions and creativity in enabling things to happen.

Talking of backstage happenings, you need to know that several things have been going on: I lobbied Rebecca Pow about arts funding and what we are trying to do.  Anna and I attended an event  she had arranged at TimEverett’s Hatherton Park Studios, and Rebecca Pow and her sister looked in to meet people during the interval of the Ken Grieb lecture in October. Anna and I met Tom Mayberry, Sam Astill and Sara Cox at the Heritage Centre to map a way forward with them, to the mutual benefit of the Museum of Somerset and ourselves. We are very happy with this arrangement. We do feel, at times, that some organisations can forget that partnerships for the flourishing of the arts have to be reciprocal.

We also receive gifts of art from time to time: Rob Cann and Geoffrey Bailey are recent examples; and we are very grateful. That in turn requires us to store and find ways of showing these works to members and, when possible, the general public. We hope to work with the Museum to arrange a small exhibition of Ann Le Bas’ paintings and etchings, say, in 2021.

Sadly three members have died: John Foden, a regular attender of our events; Ann Le Bas, a distinguished Exmoor artist, and  Pat Dixon, a past committee member. We remember them with great thanks. And our hopes and plans for this new year have been frozen, put on hold for the past month, because of the pandemic of Covid-19. We are currently in lockdown as I write this. It remains to be seen how much of our 2020 programme we can carry out. We did hear Trish Jones (17 February) on Ovid & the Metamorphosis of Desire, the first of this year’s talks..

But we shall meet again, as the Queen put it, and we shall not be deterred from going forward, when we can. On  behalf of us all I look forward to that.

Jeremy Harvey Chairman 21 March, 2020

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