Update from the Chairman!
- Hi All
Being the Chairman of DCJ is mostly a nominal role, in that I probably contribute no more than many others to the organisation of the club, other than countersigning some cheques. However, I thought it might be a good idea to send an 'official' circular round updating everybody on quite where we are following the Convention in October.
The Convention itself was yet again a great success. For those who weren't there, this year we incorporated a range of youth circus activities (workshops and an extra show) through Five Ring Circus/Let's Circus and expanded the unicycling activities with the help of JUST, particularly including their trials kit. With several of the key individuals who have previously been involved with Saturday show now based in Newcastle (rather than DCJ on a Tuesday night) the lead on this also came from Circus Central and Let's Circus. As such, the whole event was in reality a North-East convention rather than just Durham based, something that I personally felt added greatly to the whole weekend, rather than detracted from it. The event attracted an increased number of attendees, compared with last year, and made a surplus of a little over £800, although the latter was due at least in part to hidden financial support from Five Ring Circus funding in terms of workshop organisation, which will not be available in future when their funding ceases. Thanks to all who helped in any way - I have deliberately avoided mentioning individual names!
Cathy and I met with Steve Cousins, Helen and Mike Armstrong, following the event, and Steve and I have also spoken to Paul Tasker from JUST. The general consensus was that despite us coming together to run a rather new-look event rather later than might have been ideal, and the potential for groups that had never worked together before in the same way to end up at cross-purposes, the end result was pretty good. As a consequence, we very much hope to run something similar next year. We have identified a few areas that we can improve on - it would have been a miracle to get it all perfect first time round - and essentially we are now waiting for formal agreement from JUST before starting to plan for next year.
We have identified the weekend 19th to 21st October as the most likely time (to be booked with the school as soon as we hear from JUST). We have agreed that although it will still be called the Durham Juggling Convention, it will in practice become the main juggling/unicycling/circus convention for the whole of the North-East, with all groups actively participating. We propose to use the surplus from this year's event to prime the finances. The finances will run through the DCJ accounts, but we will ensure a budget, and make other financial arrangements, such that the event does not place DCJ funds at risk other than the £800, ideally to make a small surplus. We hope to expand the Friday night, to allow set-up and provide some limited space for indoor overnight sleeping for those coming from further afield, and raise the profile of the Youth Circus Show which was brilliant! In general, we want to make this a whole weekender and encourage more people to stay over on Saturday night. We also hope to put it on the 'circuit' of Youth Circus events, and attract attendees from even more parts of the country than this year. Hopefully, provided the school don't push their luck, we can keep prices in line with this year. Much of this has already been discussed on Tuesday nights, but further input is welcome.
One side item that was identified as a problem in the run-up to the Convention, was that as Dyl has not been attending the club regularly on Tuesday nights recently, Cathy then had some problems getting cheques countersigned when I was also absent due to work. I have spoken to Dyl, and she is happy to give up her formal role as Secretary. Like my role, being Secretary is really just being an active member of the club, with little in the way of extra duties - we just need a named committee as signatories to keep the bank happy. We have already had one proposal for her replacement. If anybody else is interested in taking on the role, they need to be proposed and seconded. Let me know before the end of December. Thanks to Dyl for taking on this role over recent years.
After such a good Convention, it is sad to report that having lost several regulars, attendance on a Tuesday night has been pretty erratic over recent months. Quite often, we struggle/fail to cover the cost of the hire of the hall from subs. We have some useful reserves, but the steady reduction of our bank account is not a viable business plan. We have attracted some new members - partly from the recent community groups session in the Market Place which we supported. I appreciate that existing members also have other priorities, but eventually, if not enough people come along regularly on a Tuesday, one week people will turn up and the lights will be off for good, which would be a pity. We are some way away from this situation at the moment, but support your local juggling club. Use it or lose it.
Finally, I wish everybody a Merry Christmas (and hope to see you soon!).
All the best