LVM Annual General Meeting – 14.09.2021, 19:00

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  1. Welcome and apologies

Committee present: Rosena Stevens, Florence Mather, Thomas George, Jo O’Hea

Choir members present: Scott Wiseman

  1. Manager’s update (Rosa)
    1. Virtual rehearsals

We had fortnightly rehearsals Spring 2020-Summer 2021 to keep an opportunity for the choir to sing together, with pay as you feel donations. The rehearsals were attended by roughly ⅕ of members. 

In conjunction with those rehearsals, we managed to virtually perform two pieces, Seal Lullaby and Let It Free.

  1. Venue changes and COVID guidelines

Since starting in-person rehearsals again, we are singing in Yorkshire Dance, however we are currently looking into using studio space at Leeds City College, which we may be able to use from January 2021 if not before.

The COVID guidelines we have in place for rehearsals will remain for this term in both Yorkshire Dance and elsewhere, as they are a committee decision to keep members safe and comfortable; however, the guidelines will be discussed in advance of next term. In addition, Leeds City College has bigger spaces, which would allow for the possibility of a higher maximum of socially-distanced attendees.

  1. Committee updates

Since the last Annual Meeting, Holly stepped down as Social Media Officer, Francesca stepped in as Communicator (formerly Social Media Officer) and Emma stepped in as Open Seat (advisory role) with a focus on Events and Activities.

Rosa is stepping down as Manager/Chair and Librarian, and as of yet both roles are still available. In the meantime, committee members will share the duties of both roles, including two Subcommittees: Librarian Subcommittee led by Rosa, with Flo and Jo; and Events Subcommittee led by Emma, with Rosa, Flo and Thomas.

Rosa is staying on committee as a Trustee and as Open Seat: HR, and will still show as the Chair on the Charity Commission website.

  1. Staffing updates

Caitlin will be going on maternity leave in October, and will be returning in the Spring 2022 term. We are holding auditions for her substitute on Wednesday 22nd September, during the first half of the rehearsal. We will be asking you for your feedback on the auditions during the second half. 

  1. Finance report (Sally)

The financial position of LVM at the end of the year is good – we continued to maintain a level of reserves throughout the pandemic due to the pay-as-you-feel donations from members throughout, and managed our costs by focussing on music we already own. We were also successful in gaining a grant from the D’Oyly Carte foundation which will enable us to run three virtual workshops this year (the first of which was yesterday!)

The budget for this year is conservative as we build back up to full rehearsals and performances, and we’re focussing on ensuring we have a good space for rehearsals and expert leaders to help the choir come back to full strength. 

  1. Music (Rosa)

Due to budget constraints, this year we will focus on pieces we already have. This includes music we bought for our virtual rehearsals, music we performed several years ago and music we started but weren’t able to perform at the 2021 Summer Concert. One exception is the green Carols for Choirs books that have been hired for Autumn 2021, which we hope to use for busking opportunities. 

As we have started to give out music that we have bought (And So It Goes, Sussex Carol, O Magnum), we ask you to only write in pencil and take extra care as they are more difficult to buy again. 

We are expecting you to still have your music from Spring 2020, and will be using some of that music in future terms. If you have misplaced your music during the pandemic, please let me, Jo or Flo know via email or Facebook, so we know who will need music we will be singing in Spring/Summer 2022. 

If you haven’t got a black folder and would like one, please send through a deposit of £10 along with your first installment of fees. 

  1. Publicity (Jo)

It’s been great being back for in person rehearsals, but unfortunately we’ve not been able to welcome prospective new members to the choir because of social distancing and us prioritising welcoming back our current members. Due to this and us having a full waiting list, for the moment we’ve taken the decision to close the waiting list. To reflect this, I’ve closed the “I want to sing!” page on the website. We’ll be monitoring the situation closely so if you have friends or family who want to join we won’t be able to welcome them for a while but please get them to keep an eye on our socials and on the website to see when we are next recruiting.

  1. Communications (Fran)

The choir has 30 current members who are attending rehearsals this term. There are a further 21 members who have chosen not to return to choir, who we will be inviting back once we are able to open rehearsals to more people. 

We currently have 42 people on our waiting list who are not currently members, but are interested in joining the choir when a spot opens. When we are able to host our next open rehearsal, we hope to be able to invite a few people to join us.

  1. Fundraising (Thomas)
    1. Project Funding 

Through much of 2020 and early 2021, many funds similar to those that we’ve previously received funding money from understandably tightened their budgets and either stopped giving grants or limited their grants to charities directly affected by or dealing with the pandemic. As a committee we continued to seek funding through this period, and managed to obtain a grant for £1875 from the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, specifically to put towards the running of three online workshops. The first of these workshops took place last night, which was hosted by Caitlin and focused on the basics of sight singing. The other two workshops with take place in the upcoming year – more to be announced closer to the time!

We are starting to see a number of trusts and funds open up their funding again, and derestrict the charities that they’ll fund, so will step up our efforts in the coming months, hopefully focusing on securing some unrestricted funding if possible.

  1. Sponsorship opportunities

We are also starting to actively seek sponsorships. This has been a long term plan, but due to the pandemic we didn’t have an awful lot to offer any company looking to potentially sponsor us in terms of performance opportunities where they can be seen, so put this side of fundraising on hold. Now we are able to meet in person again, both for rehearsals and socials, we’ll begin to seek sponsorship from local businesses again. This could take a number of forms – they could give us money to put their name on our posters and flyers and be visible at any performance opportunities for example, or they might sponsor a social event and give discounted rates to members. If anyone here knows of any good local businesses who may be interested in any form of sponsorship with LVM, please let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch!

  1. Socials (Flo)

Most of this year we have held virtual socials. From October, we began monthly virtual film nights which allowed us to watch a film together, a low effort way to socialise! We also held a virtual Christmas carol concert during a Saturday afternoon in December, followed by a virtual Christmas quiz that evening and exchange of Secret Santa gifts. These were well attended and really enjoyable – especially as a replacement for our usual in person busking and Christmas dinner.

Over the summer we sent out a survey to discern what kinds of socials people might like to do, and pub trips were most popular. We held pub trips most weeks over the summer break, a great way to keep in touch with each other prior to in person rehearsals starting up again.

  1. Events (Emma)
    1. Virtual Workshops

Our first virtual workshop last night proved to be a real success! We’ve had some really lovely, positive feedback and as a committee we are looking forward to planning another virtual workshop in the next few months (there are some exciting possibilities). 

  1. December performance opportunities

We’re hoping to get out there busking and bringing festive cheer once again to the people of Leeds which is so exciting! We hope to go ahead with busking on several dates in December but we will hold off from confirming these as the situation on what we’re able to do could change at any time and with Covid rates still high our priority remains keeping our choir safe. This same thought applies to any potential concert we hold this winter. We will want to see how singers, and our new associate musical director, feel about the idea of a concert after such a short time back and while we are still in the midst of a pandemic. If we do go ahead with the concert this is highly likely to be on the 20th/ 21st December so it may be worth pencilling in the date for now and we will keep you updated very soon with what’s happening.  As our funds are lower than previous years we need to ensure that this is a viable opportunity for the choir so we are currently looking at affordable venues. We’ll keep you all updated over the next couple of Months!

  1. Any other business

Rosa: I enjoyed my time as Manager and Librarian. The choir has grown a lot since taking on the roles and I’m leaving the position with it far more established than when I took the helm. Thanks to committee, Caitlin, Sylvia and for their amazing support and friendship, and choir members for helping to make great music together.