Our New Diary
Welcome to our Winter St James Newsletter which supplements the January to March 2023 Diary, which has been delivered to every household. If you did not receive your diary or would like another one, further copies are available from St James and at many locations around the Island. The details are also on our website at www.stjames.gg.
You will have noticed that our diary has an entirely different look this time since it is in a new pocket sized version. This follows requests to simplify the content. It is also designed to save both paper and production costs. The key diary listing is now easier to find and the main St James own events are highlighted, while full details of all the events on at St James are shown on the website at www.stjames.gg or by scanning the QR code in the diary.
This diary marks the launch of our new Global Collection – a diverse series of concerts throughout 2023 featuring world music of all genres. Still to come this quarter is Robert J Hunter with his Blues and Americana band and Myele Manzanza,one of the most exciting jazz musicians today. Also new this quarter is the Kooky Tea Club, which is meeting monthly in the Café, providing a vintage style high tea with culinary treats by chef James Ferguson. The first event was a sell-out, so do book early if you wish to come.
Of course our usual winter events are also scheduled this quarter as well and details are in the diary and on the website.
Changes in St James
After a very long wait for the walls of the Hall to dry out following the major damp-proofing work carried out by the States, we are delighted to report that the internal decoration of the Hall has finally been completed and the walls have been repainted. However, a building which is over 200 years old needs constant attention, and the next maintenance round will address the remaining faulty plasterwork caused by rising damp.
Unfortunately the problems with the organ have proved more intractable and it remains under repair while the manufacturer, Allens Organs, continue to test its circuits to identify those that still need to be replaced. We hope to have more positive news in the next Newsletter.
On the other hand, we are delighted to report that we now have a concert standard upright piano in the Café, thanks to a generous donation from the Swallow 2018 Charitable Trust. This will enable us to run more intimate events in the Café rather than in the main Hall. This piano supplements the practice piano, which generations of music students have used for their piano exams, and which was not of concert quality. We think you will notice the difference when you hear it!
We have also purchased curtains which can be hung below the balcony of the main Hall to create a more intimate event space when the audience is smaller, and these have been used to good effect at some recent events.
Finally, the eagle eyed may have noticed that the lampshades and holders in the main Hall have been given a “spring clean” and that the lampshades now are fitted on the front lights rather than those over the balcony, while replacement shades continue to be sourced.
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 reported that 2021 had been yet another challenging year with a surge of Covid outbreaks towards the end of the year and the cancellation of most of the Christmas concerts. Stephen expressed his appreciation for the hard work of Jon Bisson and his team, and for their flexibility in adapting to changing circumstances. He reported that the Board’s efforts in seeking an increased grant from the States had not borne fruit, but that St James had been successful in obtaining gents from some charitable foundations, notably the Social Investment Fund.
Jon Bisson then described the challenges of 2021 from an Executive Director’s perspective and the changes which were being made in order to weather the storm. This included strict controls on fixed costs, a reduction in the numbers of events to reflect the lower ticket sales and a tightening of the relationships with the many charities which St James supported.
Claire Savage then presented her report as Treasurer. She noted that St James had generated a significant loss in 2021 as the ongoing impact of Covid restrictions had been greater than anticipated at the start of the year, with lower audiences than expected. However, the financial position had improved in 2022, with better audience numbers and the receipt of some welcome additional grants.
The meeting then continued by adopting the previously announced change to the Articles of Association, enabling compliance with the new Charities Law.
Stephen Ainsworth was re-elected as President, while Claire Savage and Emma Hodge continue as Honorary Treasurer and Honorary Secretary respectively.
The meeting then re-elected Gordon Dawes, Merise Whetley and Stephen Collas as continuing Council Members, and Lawrence Malcic as a new Council Member.
As well as hearing reports from Board Members, the AGM is the opportunity that members have to share ideas and make suggestions about the St James operations. On this occasion, a suggestion was made that the balcony of the Hall could be used on gig nights, when the chairs are removed from the main level of the Hall in order to enable dancing and social mixing. Those preferring not to stand could then have seats at the balcony level to enjoy the music. The Board thought that this was an excellent suggestion and it is being trialled this quarter to see whether it should be an ongoing option for event goers.
Stephen Ainsworth concluded by thanking Richard Mahy, who was stepping down from the Council, together with all volunteer Council Members, Duty Managers, Stewards and other Volunteers for their ongoing support to enable St James to remain as successful as it has been.