2007 British Federation of Brass Bands - Annual General Meeting

4-Apr-2007

The Annual General Meeting of the BFBB was held in Orrell recently where a number of interesting issues were discussed.


The British Federation of Brass Bands states that it represents the interests of brass bands both at home and abroad, on the basis of partnership, democracy and progress.

On an international platform a BFBB Executive Committee member holds the position of Vice-President in the EBBA organisation, representing English brass bands and on a more conventional platform at home the BFBB manages a Registry. On a political platform the BFBB represents the interests of bands with the Arts Council and other political bodies.

BFBB
A fine body of men (and woman): The BFBB officers stand to attention 
Picture: John Stirzaker


The BFBB states it is the voice of British brass bands and these examples highlight just three of the important functions that the BFBB brings to the movement. There is no mandate that a British brass band must be affiliated to the BFBB nor does there seem to be any pressure from within the movement to accept that it is best served by having a National Body. The importance of the BFBB, especially in the year in which it hosts and organises the 2007 European Brass Band Championships cannot be underestimated.

This is not 4BR using its editorial position to make provocative headlines but the facts as perceived and paraphrased reflecting "the current state of play" as described by Nigel Morgan, Treasurer of the BFBB.

He pulled no punches at the AGM in quite forcefully stating the above, and issuing a quite chilling reality speech that the British Bass Band movement has now to decide whether it wants a National Body representing it or not. This was not irrational or ill conceived scare mongering, but an analytical statement of fact.

It was driven by a discussion regarding the proposition in the financial report, advising an increase in annual membership fees for bands from 65 to 100 per annum.

Membership at present is 65 per band per year with associate membership available to individuals and related organisations at 19 per year and it would take an increase of the described proportion to ensure a viable and sustainable financial future for the Federation. An uplift in fees annually in line with inflation would then seem natural and expected.

About 300 bands (in reality, less than half of brass bands in Great Britain) are members of the British Federation of Brass Bands. If bands currently members decide to vote with their wallets and choose not to renew their membership with the increased fees to the BFBB, the British movement could and probably would, in his view, find itself effectively having no international, conventional or political representation.

Of course, a new Enderby Jackson or John Henry Iles might appear, but one would suspect that it would be for their own individual and contesting ends, and not, as with the current and unpaid Executive, only having the bands best interests in their heart.

So does the movement want a National Body and is it worth 100 year each? On the evidence and the response from the meeting in Orrell, the answer would appear to be a very firm, yes.

Of course that minority present on the floor questioned whether a lesser increase would be viable, but Nigel Morgan explained that this level of increase was unavoidable as he was trying to resolve a funding issue that was deep rooted in the past. Further discussion with regard to the payment of fees by smaller monthly direct debit/standing order was not discounted.

3
Three sides of the fence: President, Chairman and Editor meet under the BFBB banner
Picture: John Stirzaker

Although owned and administered by the BFBB the incorporation of subscription fees incorporated in the registry payments would, it seems, create too many problems with regard to VAT and financial business accounting.

As has become the norm with Nigel Morgan's reports it was both stimulating and realistic in approach and tone. He is unquestionably a bandsman "through and through" and he delivered his second annual report following his first full year in office with unquestionable professionalism.

As is the norm with the BFBB Annual General Meeting, it rotates around the country and at this meeting held in the North West of England the meeting was attended by probably no more than 2% or 3% of member bands. However, these representatives do have a mandate and used it to good effect in re-electing BFBB officers for another year.

The main posts were as follows:

President: Major Peter Parkes
Chairman: Robert Morgan
Secretary: Carol Tattersfield
Treasurer: Nigel Morgan

The Executive Committee were as follows:

Derek Atkinson; George Bramfitt; David Dobson; Ken Hirst; Frank Hodges; Mike James; Colin Morrison; Arnold Tattersfield; Gary Walczak; Shirley Woodward.

Registry Appeals Committee:
Derek Atkinson; George Bramfitt; F. Carver; W. Poulton; A. Tattersfield; P. Tomlinson; P. Bates.

The BFBB is a registered charity and consequently is required to follow the requirements of the Charity Commission the Annual accounts presented were very detailed and prepared in accordance with the Financial reporting standards of Smaller Enterprises, the Statement of Recommended Practice for Charities and the Charities Act. Being filed with the Charity Commission they are therefore available for public inspection.

The first pages comprised the statutory requirement to provide a Trustees Annual Report and certain administrative information, much of which was covered by the Chairman's report.

As described the accounts were very detailed and subject to an Independent Examination and showed that no matters came to her attention that should be reported.

Treasurer's Report:

BFBB total income for the year rose slightly but this was largely due to the Registry was being charged a rent for the first time for the use of office space at the headquarters in Barnsley.  Significantly the income from membership subscriptions fell slightly and represented only 36% of the total income and accounted for the discussion that dominated the full AGM.

An Arts Council grant increased a little and that income is secured for this year and next year.

The third major item of income came from commissions received from Brass Band Insurance Services on instances taken up with them by the member bands.

Nigel Morgan recommended this service to its members and whilst acknowledging that bands may be able to find slightly better rates they would almost certainly not return some of their profit to the benefit of the movement.

He acknowledged the work of Philip Watson in achieving so much for the movement and felt that the movement was extremely fortunate that the Arts Council covered his costs. Further he felt that no one else was producing what he is for the benefit of every band.

The BFBB had previously managed the National Youth Band Championships under the sponsorship of Besson. Following the collapse of Besson, the Executive felt that this event should not be lost describing youth as the future of the movement. It was therefore agreed to underwrite the event in 2006 and look for a new sponsor for 2007.

There was a cost to the BFBB in saving this festival in 2006 however the BFBB has secured sponsorship from United Cc-operatives for 2007. The second major challenge in the year was the launch of the first ever, English National Championships.

Recognised by the European Brass Band Association as the qualifying event to select the English representative for the European Championships it did require underwriting by the BFBB in its first year

The overall result then for the year was a small deficit and reduction in reserves but not a bad result considering the two major events undertaken in the year.

Returning to the subject of income from membership subscriptions he described that in this current year he anticipated that the BFBB budget should break even but without leaving any funds to invest in any major projects for the movement.

By 2008 he described the scenario of not being able to cover costs and if the Arts Council grant changed the BFBB would not be in a position to have a national office or a development officer working as a national voice for its members.

With more and more money being diverted to the 2012 Olympics he anticipated greater pressure on the Arts Council to reduce its funding to smaller bodies and the pressure even more on the BFBB funds. In the past the member subscription had not been increased each year to keep pace with rising costs and consequently it was now falling short of both that the level of costs and the need for investment in the future.

His recommendation to the Executive was that the rate for the year beginning 1st January 2008 should be raised to 100 just to catch up. Even with this increase he explained that the BFBB would still be relying on the Arts Council to fund the development officer.


Chairman's Report:

Robert Morgan, returned as Chairman to the BFBB delivered an opening address and for completeness his speech is printed here in full.

It is with great pleasure that I am able to present this report of the British Federation of Brass Bands for 2006.

I can report another good year for the BFBB, with officers and executive committee committing themselves 100% to the organisation and brass bands in general.

I will take you through our activities.

Registry

Once again our flagship organisation, the British Brass Band Registry has had a successful year. Colin Johnson, our registry and office manager, has done a sterling job with his reliable band of assistants. Our thanks to him for his dedication and professionalism with all registry matters.

The Registry prides itself in being fair and helpful to all bands and the executive is grateful to Frank Hodges (Registry Line Manager) for ensuring that all runs smoothly.

Development Officer

Philip Watson has been in position now as our Development Officer for almost 2 years. He has travelled to many areas of the country, from Cornwall to Cumbria, meeting bands, associations and various legislative bodies.

He has developed our relationship with Arts Council England and was very much at the forefront of the BFBB's application for funding for the European Championships this year.

Philip attends regular meetings with the Voluntary Arts Group (VAN) and tells me that we (BFBB) are far more advanced than many other arts groups with larger memberships. We now have documentation in place for Series One of the Recommended Good Practice in Brass
Banding

 Child Protection
 Contract Information Packs for bands
 Marketing Pack - Marketing Strategy for bands
 Licensing Act 2003 Information Pack
 Health & Safety Information Pack available from today
 BFBB Equal Opportunities & Diversity Policy and 3-year action plan
 Guidance and Basic Principles of Safety for Youth/Junior Brass Bands

All this is down to Philip. He is a great asset to this organisation and we thank him for his contribution to the Federation's work.

Directory

We are still in discussion on the next edition of the Directory. I think it's now time to move to an electronic version, but we realise that some still prefer the paper format. Data protection is one of the problems with the electronic version and we are now obtaining permission from bands to enter their details on the website.

BBIS

Once again thanks go to our insurance partners BBIS (John & Janet Beeston) for their continued support towards the BFBB. The insurance revenue received makes a considerable input to our finances.
Website

Thanks again to Colin Johnson for his work on the development of our website. It has been transformed over the past 12 months and is now very active. Our policy is that all information should be made available on the website and there is plenty of useful information on the site.

Membership

Again, membership hovers around the 300 mark and has been fairly stable for a number of years. We still need to develop our marketing strategy more, but we have recently tried to target specific areas; Cornwall last year and Cumbria this year.

Thanks are once again due to Ken Hirst for his hard work and diligence with membership.
English National Brass Band

The first ENBBC took place last year at The Lowry on the hottest day of the year and with England playing football in the World Cup, neither helped the attendance at the contest.

However, a closely fought contest was won by Fodens (Richardson) Band who will represent England at the Europeans in Birmingham this year.

A change of venue will take us to Preston Guild Hall for the next 3 years, and the winning band this year will represent England at the 2008 Europeans in Stavanger.

As the stature of the event grows we are grateful to all our sponsors and in particular our headline sponsor, TimeLine Vision.

Thanks are due to Derek Atkinson for his diligent work on this project.

I am pleased to announce today that TimeLine Vision will once again be our headline sponsor. We also have a new partner sponsor for this year, Besson Buffet Crampon and we look forward to working with them in the development of the ENBBC.

Euro 2007

Well, it's almost upon us - the 28th April will see the arrival of the European Youth Band members, closely followed by the soloists for the young soloist competition (64 entries in total).

The bands competing in the European Championships will be arriving in Birmingham on 3rd May, when 13 European countries will be represented. What a great boost for EBBA this is and for us at the BFBB also. With the cost of the event approaching 100,000, this is a mammoth task for our team of volunteers to finance and manage.

It will be a great week - please go and buy your tickets now.

A special word of thanks here to Dave Dobson, our European co-ordinator, for the many hours
of hard work that he has put into this event.

Youth Championships

Last year's National Youth Championships were difficult financially for the BFBB. With the loss of sponsorship, the championships had to be underwritten from the reserves of the Federation.

However, finance aside, the youth bands came up trumps again, with just under 30 bands competing at the Royal Northern for the various National titles. The skill and ability of the bands never fail to amaze me. This year we have a record entry with 39 bands taking part. Another great day for British banding is on the cards. Our thanks are due to Gary Walczak and in particular, Arnold Tattersfield for their work towards the National Youth Championships. As previously announced we are most grateful to our headline sponsor, United Co-op who are sponsoring the event for a two-year period.

European Funding

The BFBB is working diligently with EBBA to try and achieve regular European Funding. We (BFBB) are working in particular with Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, Lithuania and Austria to try and obtain some well deserved European Parliament funding, not just for the Championships, but various projects within each country. A presentation will be made by EBBA during this year's European Festival.

The Future

As per our logo, BFBB will strive for Partnership, Democracy and Progress. Democracy is sometimes difficult and progress is mostly hard, but we will strive on to achieve further success.

We are interested and encouraged by the work carried out by ABBA and their efforts to improve adjudication standards and responsibility.

Like a lot of bands, we would like to see the regional contests spread over a few more weeks, but we understand the difficulty regional committees have with availability of top class venues.

Youth, of course, is the key to success and we must encourage and nurture our young players as best we can. We also need to work at the ever increasing fallout at the age of 16-18. If we could solve this exodus many of our player problems would be solved overnight.
I make no apology for again thanking my colleagues on the BFBB executive committee for their hard work. They spend many hours working for bands and travel hundreds of miles a year on BFBB business.

I'm sure my colleagues will not mind if I mention in particular Nigel Morgan, who has worked hard to put our finances in order and Arnold Tattersfield, who spends many hours in the office at Barnsley doing all the mundane tasks that need to be done.

Thanks also to our general secretary, Carol Tattersfield, for her hard work and efficiency dealing with BFBB business.

To our colleagues from the band press, we thank you for your support and encouragement for our work. Most of it is positive and the negative bits usually encourage us to have a close inspection of ourselves.

Ladies and Gentlemen the key word for the BFBB is partnership, as it has been now for the past 3 years. We are prepared to work with everyone in the brass band movement to move banding forward and we look forward to the challenges ahead.

This concludes the report of the BFBB for the 2007 AGM.

Robert Morgan Chairman, BFBB 1st April, 2007


President


Peter Parkes, President of the BFBB closed the discussion with his address.

With a very personal and unscripted plea he urged all bands, be they present members or not, to "look beyond the money" and look to what makes the movement so special.
"A love of music making and the love for the brass bands movement that should not get bogged down in money," he said.

This important topic needs further informed discussion and no doubt the Executive Committee has some serious debate regarding this at their first Executive Meeting in this financial year. Of course this topic did not consume the whole of the meeting but it was a discussion that met with an extended period of discussion.

With Major Parkes' s address striking a real chord in the room with the delegates, it was left to them to enjoy a presentation by 4BR Editor, Iwan Fox on the role of the modern media and the brass, which certainly stimulated a number of friendly responses. 

John James

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