Saturday, 4 August 2007

Minutes of VAN Trustees meeting

Minutes of VAN Trustees’ meeting
The Cornhouse, Monday July 30 2007
Present:- Carola Fielden: Martin Smith: Julia Pim: Dave West: Mike Hatch: Chris Dean: Andrew Howe: Neil Walker. Apologies from David Collingwood.

Minutes approved subject to one alteration; the sub for the rest of the year is £10 not £12.

Matters arising from the minutes
1 Art About Town. Jules said that feedback forms have recently gone out to shops; a few are back, so far positive reactions. Shops had experienced low numbers of shoppers generally in this period (the weather?). Feedback forms for artists will go out soon. There had been 1 or 2 instances of mis-communication between artist and shopkeeper.
Around 9000 leaflets had been distributed. Donations towards Blue Chairs Charity stand at £30.03 and still growing. A photo-op and press release around a cheque presentation will be organised by Jules and Carola.
Jules felt that in future the job of organising Art about Town should be split into 4 roles. Her final summary of the event will be available during August/Sept/

2 Lobbying Carola met with Sue Goodwin (SCC), (who is not leaving, and will probably be senior arts officer in the Unitary authority when it arrives).
She could not give us their list of artists, (data protection) but instead offered to print and post our questionnaire to all 260 names on the list.
She gave us a copy of the Arts Council report on their national questionnaire, in which Shropshire had the highest rate of responses returned (57%). Also she gave us a list of addresses of Shropshire Arts Partnerships which Carola will use a) to contact b) to invite to publicise themselves on the VAN website.
Apparently in the SCC arts policy, visual arts in Shrewsbury are “prioritised”, presumably because they are seen as in need of more support than other areas.
Sue Goodwin thinks that if we want to ask for money to develop the website, we “must prove the need for it”. Dave and Carola both emphasised that this means we need a thought out business plan, and therefore means we have to clarify what we think VAN should be/wants to be doing.
Carola has also tried but failed so far to make contact with Maggie Love (SABC arts development officer), who apparently has expressed great willingness to help us..

3 Membership We have 36 paid up members at the moment. It was decided that membership application forms (which Carola will produce) will go out with the questionnaire; we also need to start sending receipts.

4 Finance Andrew said we need £600 pa to cover our costs (i.e. to survive but not do anything that means paying out money). That’s the equivalent of 60 members at present rate. The address for bank and other stuff will be changed from Belmont to Andy’s. Co-signatories for cheques are Neil Walker, Mike Hatch, Pat Jones, and Wren Miller.

5 Website Much discussion, ending with general agreement that the website is a priority for the next year. Martin is to link our site to Shropshire Community Directory. Carola asked trustees to look at the Axis website (a national arts site) for comparison and inspiration. She also said that Russell Parry, although not a member, is very willing to work on our website, as long as we pay him something.

General discussion
*That VAN must be, and be seen to be, professional in its activities, was expressed strongly by Andy, Carola and Martin and others during the evening.
*Martin reported back from a seminar on “Culture in Shropshire and Telford” which he attended both as Qube and VAN. Out of that, he said, a group is to be set up called SHAG (Shropshire art Group) to organise if possible outside local authority constraints and financing, and to act as a discussion forum. The groups includes Art Alive;Pentabus;DASH;VAN;Qube;BorderArts;Blue Eyed Soul. This obviously is a broad group; it was emphasised that locally the profile of visual arts within “culture” is low compared to say drama or music. Carola will use the list of attendees as another set of targets to contact.
*Carola is to produce a list of the local “great and good” in the arts scene and local authorities, so that trustees know more clearly who we are talking about.
*Comment relayed by Dave from Andy Down of Creative Industries Hereford:- “the unique thing about VAN is the Art about Town” – (in comparison to other local arts groups).

Future Activities
Various decisions about the summer festival were taken:-
a) every exhibitor in Art about Town must be a member of VAN; (prop Carola, sec Dave, passed unanimously)
b) There was discussion about artists and shopkeepers’ fees, but nothing was decided.
c) Artists in the Open Studios must also be members (prop Dave, sec Carola, passed unanimously)
d) There should be one leaflet and trail map, which should include both the shops in Art About Town, with names of the artists, and the Open Studios
e) We should avoid the clash of the public events for the opening of A around T being on the same weekend as the Open Studios
f) If possible the Open Studios should run for 2 weekends; Ann McCay to be consulted
g) The finances of Open Studios ought really to be included in VAN accounts, but this will obviously be discussed first with Ann McCay.

It was decided by unanimous vote that VAN’s basic development work for the next year is to prepare a business plan in order to make funding applications to support the work and extension of:-
1 The website
2 Sarah Lean’s curating function
3 Art Around Town
4 Open Studios
5 The Open
6 Administration
…………… as well as continuing with our existing work.
Sarah Lean, who took over Caspar’s curating operation, says she has problems finding artists who want to be exhibited!! We should have her details on the website; and the chair encouraged trustees to get to all her PVs and take other people with us, make more contacts, get networking. (Sarah Lean. and )

Next Meeting Monday Sept 10, The Cornhouse, 7.00 pm

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