The Christmas decorations are now up at St James and our festive programme of events is in full swing. All the details are in the diary or can be found on our website at www.stjames.gg. We do hope to see you at some of these events and its not too late to book if you do not yet have tickets. These are still available from our Box Office, or on the website, or can be purchased on the day at the event.
However, for those who find Christmas too much of a good thing, we have just the antidote on 28th December when we are holding our Miami Vice party with not a bauble in sight, but just a great evening with some leading local bands. We trialled this event last year as our Winter Beach Party and it was such a success that we are repeating it this year. Again, details and tickets are available from our website or from our Box Office, and tickets can be purchased on the door.
In the meantime, we wish all our members a great Christmas and a happy New Year.
A 2020 Preview
The new diary shows the events for the first quarter of 2020, including the ever popular Oddsocks theatre in January which, this year, features “The Adventures of Pinocchio”. It also gives a preview of one of our major summer attractions, when we welcome back the Shakespeare Globe Touring Company in July. After last year’s brilliant reception we hope to do even better this year with three very popular Shakespeare plays, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “As You Like It” and “The Tempest”. There are still corporate sponsorship opportunities for these and other events, so please do get in touch if you would like to get involved.
We are expecting to present fewer chamber classical concerts in 2020, since these are often not well supported and have proved loss making in 2019. However, we are continuing to seek sponsorships so would be delighted to hear from any corporate who would like to engage with us as part of their corporate responsibility initiative, or any charity or individual who would be able to assist us in presenting a full range of events at St James. We were very grateful for a substantial anonymous donation in 2019 to support the exciting performances of the Maxwell Quartet and the Warwick Trio.
A Warm Welcome
We are delighted that the new heating system in the main hall has now been commissioned and the hall is now providing a warm welcome to performers and audiences alike. We are still in the testing phase in order to fine tune the equipment to our requirements, but are pleased that we can again enjoy events in a more comfortable climate.
As reported in previous Newsletters, we have been aware for many years of the damp problem which has disfigured the plasterwork, particularly on the east gable and the northern wall at gallery level. This is, of course, a responsibility of the States, as they are responsible for the external maintenance of the building. Thus we were very pleased when the States informed us that they had the budget for major renovation works on the exterior of St James intended to cure this problem once and for all. While building work is necessarily disruptive while it lasts, it then gives us the prospect of having the Hall restored to its original glory in a few months’ time.
It has taken some while for the States to specify the work needed and to complete a procurement process, but we now know that the work will start in January next year and will run for about six months. During that time we will still be able to use the Hall, including the gallery, which we had feared would be unavailable during that time. There will be scaffolding both within the Hall and outside, and the external scaffolding is being erected currently. We will be aiming to reduce the visual impact as much as we can, but please bear with us as we may not be looking our best while this necessary work is in progress.
Annual General Meeting
November marked our Annual General Meeting when our President, Treasurer and Executive Director gave their reports for the year.
As President, Stephen Ainsworth commented that the Board had set itself three key objectives for 2019.
Firstly, we wanted to roll out a broader range of events in order to make St James more inclusive for the whole community of Guernsey. This has proved really successful. As a result, ticket sales have soared in 2019, as has the number of our own sponsored events. However, we were determined that our new events did not adversely impact our loyal longstanding hirers and we have been able to hold their usual dates in 2019, and expect to continue that in 2020 and beyond.
Secondly, we needed to give everyone visiting St James a warm welcome by ensuring that the hall had an adequate heating system. It proved challenging in finding a system that would both meet the requirements for a listed building and which met the requirements of the States as our Landlord. However, thanks to a great deal of hard work by Jon Bisson, we were able to agree upon an electrically driven blown air system, which met those requirements. Happily this project is now complete
Thirdly, we wanted to restore St James to financial stability. Last year we made substantial progress in reducing the net deficit and had hoped to complete that process in 2019. In practice, we have not achieved that and are learning from the 2019 experience as we build the event plan and budget for 2020. We expect to have fewer events than in 2019 but are aiming for these to be special occasions which will attract larger audiences as a result.
He concluded by thanking all members of the Board and the Council for their contributions throughout the year, together with the voluntary duty managers, stewards and other volunteers without whom St James would not function. He also offered special thanks to the dedicated in house team who make every event a special occasion.
Simon Milsted as Treasurer presented the St James 2018 accounts. These showed an improving trend, as the trading deficit had reduced from 2017, even though there had been a number of additional costs associated with the St James Bicentenary during 2018. However, he warned that 2019 was proving challenging and that he anticipated a worse result for the current year. While income from the increased number of events was significantly greater than in 2018, so were the costs incurred in servicing these events. He warned that these events needed to be better supported if they are to continue.
Jon Bisson as Executive Director outlined our progress in becoming a community hub, with a number of initiatives during the year. These included the Guernsey Community Arts Festival, the Sound music festival, the DonkeyCon gaming weekend and the hosting of the GNet local radio service. The Comedy events during the year had been particularly successful, both with the ticket income and with the associated bar profits. While not all events had made a profit, we had gained valuable experience during 2019, which had been an experimental year, and were learning from this in putting together an exciting programme for 2020.
A New Treasurer
Simon Milsted’s report was his final report as Treasurer since he retired from the post at the AGM after six years in the role. We are really grateful for his contribution over the last six years as Treasurer and as a key member of the St James Board. He has shown that it is indeed possible to explain our accounts in an engaging manner!
In our last Newsletter we included a call for a new Treasurer to replace Simon and were very pleased at the number of expressions of interest received. Following a structured interview process the Board agreed to propose Claire Savage as our new Treasurer and Claire has been duly appointed as Treasurer at the AGM. We look forward to working with her as she gets to grip with our finances.
Be part of it
We are grateful to our loyal band of volunteer duty managers and stewards, without whom we would not be able to run many of our events, especially in the evenings and at weekends. However we are now looking to increase their numbers in order to support more events and to spread the load more evenly. This is a great way to enjoy events which you might otherwise have missed, while helping to support St James. There are no fixed requirements and no prior experience is needed as full training will be given. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Fiona Malley on 711360 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.