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 M E M B E R S  >  A G M   2 0 0 6  M I N U T E S


At the Annual General Meeting of the WOODHOUSE PLAYERS COMMITTEE held on WEDNESDAY 10TH MAY 2006 at 7.30pm in the Welsh Church Hall, Leytonstone.


Stephen Balchin, Vicky Bettelheim, Robert Bettelheim, Liz Braithwaite, Steve Cahill-Hayes, Khadija Cheetham-Slade, Derek Evans, Kate Harper, Ita Hill, Matthew House, Sam Kenny, James McKendrick, Jenny Moorby, Vaughn Prosser, Peter Raggett, Thomas Ribbits, Monica Saunders, Tim Saward (Chair), Sonja Wardle, Jackie Withnall

Apologies for Absence were received from Oliver Clement, James Goodman, Carla MacLean and Chris Pethers.


  2. Tim Saward, the Chairman of the Woodhouse Players, opened the meeting by welcoming those present to the proceedings. He went on to explain how the meeting would progress and the issues that were to be considered in accordance with the constitution and the agenda.


    Tim Saward gave his report on the events of the group over the last year and highlighted the fact that there were twelve productions in total, making it the busiest year yet. He drew attention to the improving situation relating to recruitment and retention, which was partly due to the increased number of productions. This however had also brought to light a problem for the group: The need for a wider selection of people to give technical support. He advised that there was a major publicity effort underway to attract more people to assist in this way but more Woodhouse Members were needed to help with this by putting up posters which formed part of the campaign.

    He then mentioned the group's success at the Waltham Forest Drama Festival:
    · Best Actor for James McKendrick
    · Nominations for Best Actress for Sonja Wardle and Sacha Walker
    · Second Place overall at Waltham Forest for 45 Minutes To Go by Steve Balchin

    He then enumerated the increase in activities which included the five main productions of the year, the increased programme of workshops, two community "one-off" events, street theatre and the successful cabaret. He also listed the successes of the group in relation to its programme of work agreed at the last AGM in 2005, but also mentioned the proposed skills audit which was only now being undertaken and the lax approach taken to collecting membership fees over the year which as it directly affected the Woodhouse Players financial situation needed to improve.


    In the absence of James Goodman, the Chair introduced the Treasurer's report. The need for more assiduous collection of membership fees from the Group was noted and Kate Harper volunteered to work with the Treasurer on this matter.

    The balance at the end of the year 2005/6 was noted as being £7156.62p, a net increase of £1297.22 over 2004/5.


    Thos Ribbits, Secretary, presented his report in which he explained the role of the Committee and detailed some of its work during the course of the last year in respect of both productions and infrastructure.

    He reported on the efforts made on sustainability within the Group and the need for greater technical support that the increase in productions had highlighted. He reminded the Group that at the last AGM it had agreed that non-successful auditioners should be asked to help on the technical side of productions and that more volunteers would allow for bigger production teams which would help training and cross fertilisation of skills. He then touched on publicity and the variety and differing scales of productions and events undertaken during the last year which showed that the long term planning approach adopted by the Group had been a success. Thos then mentioned the Group's continued wish to get a public performance licence and explained that whilst it was still an ambition, the matters relating to the Welsh Church Hall and a possible move from the venue which seemed likely last November had overshadowed any efforts in this direction. On the matter of the Hall, he then listed the many infrastructural actions that had taken place, including:

    Rationalisation of group assets and extensive disposal of unneeded objects.
    - Storage area applications work
    - Additional auditorium seats and cushions purchased
    - Expansion of guidance documents on the website for producers/directors
    - Updating of the website


    Sonja Wardle, Publicity Officer, reported the publicity work which had taken place over the last year, and in particular paid tribute to the hard work undertaken by Jackie Withnall, Jenny Moorby and Oliver Clement who had worked very closely with her as a de facto publicity team for many productions.

    Sonja went on to explain the extensive targeted efforts for each production. It was also noted that it was through the efforts of Jackie and Jenny that Woodhouse enjoyed its first sponsored production when Yorkshire Tea kindly sponsored "Second From Last in the Sack Race".

    Sonja then mentioned the following matters:
    - The death of Phyl Romeril, the local theatrical critic, and the lack of reviews resulting from this
    - The large publicity drive for Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Make Mine A Double, whilst acknowledging the miscalculation of lack of appropriate focus on a geographic basis.
    - The stronger relationship with the local media that resulted from the involvement with "A Mug's Game", which was part of a press sponsored community event.

    She concluded by reminding members that publicity was a difficult enterprise in that the effort put in did not always reflect the benefit that came out, and thanking colleagues for support over the last year.


    Thomas Ribbits, the Secretary, explained the proposals in the constitution. The following were then unanimously agreed:

    Change One

    Paragraph 16, (iii) to be altered so that "and maintain an up-to-date membership list " is removed as this function is now performed by an ordinary member. The revised paragraph to read: "Secretary - who will take minutes of committee meetings and otherwise ensure discussions are recorded and communicated to the committee and send out calling notices for committee meetings and the AGM;

    Paragraph 17 to be amended so that the requirement of the maintenance of an up to date membership list is recorded as a function of the committee (but not necessarily that of the Secretary). The revised paragraph 17 to read: The committee shall be responsible for ensuring the following functions are fulfilled:
    i. Publicity, to ensure each play or activity is promoted as appropriate, and that promotional material (posters, fliers, front of house photos, etc.) is arranged and available.
    ii. Production co-ordination, to liaise on a day-to-day basis with the group"s venue; ensure that front of house (both people, and refreshments) are covered for each play or activity.
    iii. Efficient, timely and appropriate communication with non-associated members regarding the business of the group.
    iv. Making arrangements for the proper care or handing of the group"s assets.
    v. Maintainence of an up-to-date membership list

    Change Two

    Paragraph 24 to change from:
    "24. In the event of a vacancy for the Chair, or if the Chair is permanently unable to carry out his/her duties then the remaining members of the Committee shall appoint another Committee Member as a temporary Acting Chair by majority vote without delay. The committee must then notify the non-associated membership of the vacancy, set a deadline for nominations for the position of Chair and conduct a vote of the non-associated membership of the group, a vote taking place no more than six weeks from the vacancy occurring. In the event of a vacancy on the committee in respect of any other position, the committee may co-opt another non-associate member on to the committee."
    to read:
    "24. In the event of a vacancy for the Chair, or if the Chair is permanently unable to carry out his/her duties then the remaining members of the Committee shall appoint another Committee Member as Chair by majority vote without delay. The committee must then notify the non-associated membership of the change. The Committee may then co-opt a member of the Group to fill the resulting vacancy."

    This change does not prevent the Committee from calling an extraordinary meeting to determine how to fill the vacancy if it wishes, not stop the membership calling an extraordinary meeting if it wishes to challenge the decision.

    Change Three

    As email has become the principal way of communicating for the group, it is proposed to add "or by email" to paragraph 31 so that it reads: "The Annual General Meeting shall be held in the second quarter of each year. It shall be called by the Secretary in writing [ADD: or by email] at least 21 days before the appointed date. Every member shall be sent a copy of the notice of the meeting."

    To help clarify this situation, it should be noted by the wider membership that when the Constitution refers to meetings being notified to members, this will be done by listing on the website for ordinary meetings and by email communication for extraordinary general meetings or the annual general meeting - as this is cheaper and more efficient for the group. Where a member does not have email access, alternative arrangements will, of course, be made. Efforts to ensure that up to date contact details are kept by the Committee will be made.

    ACTION BY: Secretary/Chair


    The Chair then opened the general discussion part of the meeting. The issues identified by the outgoing Committee as detailed in the agenda formed the basis of the discussion that followed.

    Infrastructure Renewal

    Robert Bettelheim discussed the document included in the agenda entitled "Infrastructure Renewal" and updated members on progress on each of the items. The outstanding items were:

    - Lighting: Some new lanterns were required
    - Lighting Control: Robert expressed his view that it should be a priority for the lighting controls to be upgraded by buying a new lighting board with many more channels or if this were to be unsuitable for the Welsh Church Hall electrical supply to purchase lights that drew less power and/or were versatile insomuch as they could change what they did (eg changed colours, beams, etc). He warned that this upgrade - whichever method was selected - was expensive, and an electrician would be needed to assess the building's electrical systems.
    - Lighting Rigging: This had already been agreed and was currently being sourced.
    - Black Curtains: Although these had been bought and were proving successful, it would be good to get some more to cover the back wall of the hall.
    - Sound System: One of the current wall mounted speakers needed repair as it was broken. Further advice was needed on how to upgrade the sound for productions
    - Storage Space: This had now been superseded and was being dealt with by the purchase of storage sheds to replace the loft space.

    The Group then discussed these matters and made the following comments:
    - An electrician should be hired to check the electrical supply
    - An analogue lighting control system was better than a computer controlled one as it was easier to operate and more versatile if things went wrong.
    - Equipment should be bought by the group but not shared with other groups
    - The shed storage was the priority for the year but was being paid for from reserves whereas other infrastructure improvements if expensive (eg the lighting control upgrade) should be funded if possible from grants and external sources.
    - Better lighting would benefit productions that used the Welsh Church Hall in a different way to usual (eg productions not taking place on the stage itself)
    - The group should also consider purchasing rostra for both raked seating to allow for better audience sight lines for non-stage based productions
    - The lighting upgrade and the purchase of new lanterns should be done together.
    - Improved lighting was likely to be more important than improved sound for the agreed forthcoming Woodhouse productions.

    Although there was some disagreement between members on this, it was agreed that the infrastructural improvements in the forthcoming year should be prioritised as follows :

    1) Sheds and storage
    2) Lighting control and new lanterns
    3) Sound System
    4) Seating and rostra
    5) More black curtains

    ACTION BY: The Committee

    It was noted that Chris Pethers had agreed to help seek external funding and so would be asked to do so. Robert Bettelheim suggested that the lighting upgrade would cost approximately £5000.

    ACTION BY: The Committee

    Drama Festivals

    Tim Saward explained that the Havering Drama Festival did not go ahead this year and there were concerns that both it and the Waltham Forest Drama Festival might not take place next year. There were alternatives such as the Thurrock Drama Festival which occurred in May/June annually and the group were asked to discuss whether to continue entering such events, and the implications for the production schedule. The following comments were made:

    - Drama festivals were popular with most members as it broadened the group's horizons, stopped it being insular and helped it to learn from others.
    - They encouraged new writing
    - The group might not produce one act plays under other circumstances and these were a way for the group to experiment.
    - They opened the group up to wider publicity possibilities
    - There was also drama festivals in Southend and Barnet though these might be too far to travel.
    - The group should match its production slots in the year to the requirements of festivals.

    It was therefore agreed that the Woodhouse Players should continue to participate in drama festivals, and that it should concentrate on the Havering and Waltham Forest Drama Festivals if these went ahead and, if not, then it should enter the Thurrock Drama Festival.

    ACTION BY: The Committee

    Additional Production

    The group then discussed the possibility of reducing the current Spring triple bill to being a double bill and instead having another small production in the February Half Term period. The following comments were made:

    - It would require auditions and rehearsals to commence before the pantomime had concluded
    - It could be done if the production were small in scale (like Teechers)
    - A double bill would be better than a triple bill if Woohouse were involved in only one drama festival
    - February would be a good time to concentrate on school's A Level texts, though it was noted that the group had not been successful in attracting a schools audience.
    - A double bill would make rehearsals easier to organise than for a triple bill.

    It was therefore agreed that there should be a small scale February production annually and a subsequent Spring double bill. If no-one decided to advocate a play for the new slot, then a triple bill could be produced as usual

    ACTION BY: The Committee

    Alternative Venues

    The group discussed alternative options for occasional external Woodhouse productions. The following comments were made:

    - The Sheepwalk Pub upstairs function room could be used (as it was for Our Ada's Parrot, the recent cabaret). However, there was a fee to be paid if fewer than thirty people were in attendance and there was a problem of noise pollution from the pub unless the show itself was loud and exuberant. It would also need to be investigated whether a fee could be charged on the door.
    - Venues should be considered by production rather than vice versa - eg Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde- Make Mine A Double was produced in the Broadway, Barking as it had sufficient ambition to require a bigger venue.
    - Everyone involved in productions in proper theatres had enjoyed it and the group should consider doing it again: though it was noted that for eg Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde- Make Mine A Double, it had been made possible by producers who were prepared to back it financially.
    - Wanstead House was a venue that could be considered and it charged approximately £150 a night


    There being uncontested elections for all posts on the Committee, the candidates for those positions were declared duly elected as follows:

    Tim Saward - Chairman
    James Goodman - Treasurer
    Thos Ribbits - Secretary
    Steve Balchin - Ordinary Member
    Kate Harper - Ordinary Member
    Jenny Moorby - Ordinary Member
    Jackie Withnall - Ordinary Member

    Those present then gave a hearty vote of thanks to Carla Maclean and Sonja Wardle as outgoing Committee members.

    Tim Saward also advised that he was likely to resign from the Committee in September in order to pursue other interests.


    Membership Fees

    it was noted that although the group had again frozen membership fees, it has not been assiduous in collecting these from members. Everyone noted the need to ensure that such fees were collected as a major part of the group's fundraising effort, and so Kate Harper undertook to collect these from all members over the year.

    ACTION BY: Kate Harper

    There being no other business, the Chair thanked everyone for their contributions and closed the meeting at 9.50 pm.

 A G M   ' 0 6

The '06 AGM was held at the Welsh Church Hall on Wednesday 10th May 2006.

 H E A D L I N E S

Here's what the new committee are doing this year about the issues raised at the AGM:

  • A review of infrastructure used by the group, inparticular storage, lighting, audio, seating and curtains.
  • Investigate external funding for the group.
  • Promote the idea of an extra small scale February production and to reduce the Spring triple bill to a double bill production.
  • Improvements to the process of collecting membership fees.

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