Chairman's Report to the AGM 2013

Welcome, It would be fair to say that the year to date has not been an easy one for artists or for Suffolk Open Studios with the sales for the 2012 Showcase being disappointing.  The winter exhibition was poorly attended this was also disappointing as the work shown was excellent.   This having been said it is no good dwelling on negatives; it simply means that we have been motivated to look for alternatives and solutions.

1. Showcase and Committee

My thanks go to the committee for their all work and to the members who helped Catherine Allen in her second year organising the Showcase 2012; Cathy a great job well done.  Naomi is standing down as treasurer in June a big thank you to her for doing a difficult job.  Now, an early warning for next year that the membership should be prepared to find a secretary and a chairman as both Chris Deacon and I will be standing down. The future of the showcase is to be discussed at this meeting please see item 5.

2. Website

Continuing communication problems with former hoisting company has lead to the employment of DPS technology who are building SOS a completely new web site using a different platform – for those that know or care about these things it is Joomla.  We have a tighter contract with them and with a huge amount of input from Cathy Allen I can promise you that SOS will get a website worthy of its name and much greater functionality, appearance and ease of updating.  The interface for the artists managing their own micro-sites will be similar to the current system, so I am lead to understand.  They are also cheaper than the last hosting company.

3. PR & Marketing

Finding the way to best promote the Open Studios has been an issue for some years and has never really been successfully addressed.

  • Having a committee member responsible for this aspect of SOS business was thought to be a solution, but in the cold light of day has not produced the results we were seeking.
  • The directory was and is excellent, but is expensive and we are unable to track exactly where it goes and with what result.  Wastage is an ever present issue.
  • The showcase was designed to do what it says on the cover, be a taste of things to come at open studios and along with that there is of course AAT, (24 venues exhibiting members work).
  • We have never been able to afford to, or if we did, to justify the expense of paid for advertising; quantifying the outcome is difficult if not impossible.
  • So we have now contracted Jo Riches limited to do all this for us.  They have handled the publicity for Cambridge Open Studios for 3 years and having spoken to COS membership secretary they are pleased with the work that has been done.  I am pleased to introduce Jo and her colleague Charlotte who are here at this meeting and can answer questions under AOB.
  • We, the committee believe that this is absolutely the right way forward, a professional and focussed approach that will ensure that SOS gets into the public awareness and drive people onto our studios.

4. The Directory

To save money last year we cut back on the print run from 30000 to 20000 and slightly reduced the quality, this year we will only print 7500 (later increased to 12000 following representations post the AGM) the resulting saving being put into Jo Riches ltd to handle our marketing.

I believe that there are better ways to handle the cost of setting up and printing the directory which I will address as part of the debate on the Showcase.

5. Membership
This year we have 94 full members down from last year, 10 associate members and 4 gallery members.
6. Open Studios
I need say no more than refer you to the excellent 10 top golden rules for running your open studios that has been produced by Jo Riches, based on the experience of COS.
7. Blackthorpe and the Showcase

  •  Has been a social and enjoyable event (PV esp) for many years and an established part of SOS.
  • Time now to review its efficacy. It was and is meant to give the public a foretaste of artists work in open studios and encourage visitors.  Until last year the impact on visitors to studios was never measured.
  • It is probably true that if there is no showcase it will be missed and could be an opportunity given up.
  • “The night of the private view never ceases to amaze me! The number of people and the amount sales were the best that I have seen in my six years of being involved with SOS – even in a recession!! Considering the holes in the walls, the never ceasing cold – even on a sunny day, the issues of lighting a heavily overloaded electricity network and the added “bat art work” – to make Blackthorpe such a success is a credit to all our artists and to all those involved with setting up the venture.” Alison 2009 AGM
    Tom Lund-Lack 2013

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