If you're brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello

Today's post was written by the Chair of Trustees of The Arts Society, Julie Goldsmith. I would like to add my personal gratitude for and appreciation of everyone mentioned in her reflection on goodbyes and hellos:


Another week flies by in lockdown. Despite the days and weeks merging into one endless week, this week was, for many of our colleagues, an important week. For Colleagues in Mainland Europe and our team at Guilford Street it was the week of the Annual General Meeting. Our first outside of the UK and a decision made before the word Brexit had been invented and certainly before the dreaded C word entered our vocabulary. The AGM had taken years of planning and, in common with all our out of town AGMs, had been a controversial choice in some quarters. So for many this week has been tinged with sadness and disappointment, and out of respect to the protagonists we should recognise that, even in a world where there is so much more to grieve about.


That opportunity to come together and exchange ideas and celebrate our achievements has been denied us for now.


But we will meet again! Right now we just don’t know where or even when!

Along with all the legal and regulatory requirements, the AGM is the point at which outgoing Area Chairs and Heads of Volunteering activities hand over the baton to a new generation. It provides an opportunity to celebrate and personally thank the volunteers who support our network of Societies for their contributions. They help in holding together our complex structure and bridging the gap between a local Society and the umbrella of The Arts Society. Most importantly they ensure we remain focussed on our charitable objects and by example, uphold our values.


Last weekend, as is customary, I wrote to those who are standing down. It was an opportunity to reflect on what each had contributed individually and I can say with certainty they have all left their mark on our organisation. They have all shown huge commitment to The Arts Society, our local Societies, our members and our volunteers. Each has played their part in a time of great change, having been key to the success of the implementation of our name change (and all that that entailed) and marking our 50th Anniversary in 2018.


So please join with me in thanking them.


Michael Beach (East Surrey), Alicia Herbert (Essex), Caroline Symington (Chiltern Hills) and Lee Cary (Kent), have completed their three years chairing their respective Areas. Susan Williams (Wyvern) is also standing down. We wish them all the best for the future and hope they continue to enjoy their involvement with The Arts Society whatever that may look like.

David Yates (South West) having completed his term of office has kindly agreed to join our Society Support Team so we shall not lose his wisdom.

Caroline Coleman (West Surrey) has agreed to continue to support our efforts on Area reform through the implementation phase.

Finally Carolyn Trevor-Jones (West Midlands) assumes her role as a newly elected Trustee at the re-arranged AGM on June 4th. Congratulations Roly!


I am sure that all would want me to acknowledge the support of their committees during their tenure. None of us are in it on our own!


We would also like to thank Ann Foulds who has kindly agreed to remain as Area Chairman of East Anglia until we have found a successor. And welcome back to Jillie Moss, a former Trustee who has stepped in as interim Chair of Sussex following David Bignell’s resignation.


Taking over from our retiring Area Chairs are:-


Bernadette MacKenzie-Ross (Chiltern Hills)

Andrea Gabb (East Surrey)

Chris Symington (West Surrey)

Elizabeth Goodwin (Essex)

Helen Turner (Kent)

Jo Wymer (South West)

Hilary Reid-Evans (Wyvern)

Rob Hubbleday (West Midlands)


Somewhat unexpectedly they are assuming their new roles at yet another time of great change. I also wrote to our new Chairs to congratulate them on being appointed and to wish them luck. Many have replied to me and I have been hugely impressed with their positive ‘can do’ attitude. Aware that there are big challenges to overcome they are determined to roll with the punches and continue our good works. We are lucky indeed to have them.


There are changes in our volunteering arms too. Kath Bowen our Head of Heritage Volunteering hands over to Hilary Olleson. Kath’s enthusiasm for Heritage Volunteering is tangible and her personal style infectious. Thank you Kath for your significant contribution and good luck to Hilary as she builds on Kath’s legacy.


Julia Tibbs stands down as Head of our Support Team. It is sad that having expended so much effort into nurturing new Societies, at least three, possibly more have had to delay their inauguration. One of those was Coventry which next year celebrates its role as UK City of Culture. It would have been inconceivable for there to be a city of culture without an Arts Society of its own. Julia’s role will in future be split between David Yates and Angela Payne. Angela will already be known to many of you as the former Area Chair for East Anglia and already an active member of the Support team. I fear both may well have their work cut out post Covid. So big thanks to Julia for her good works and good luck to David and Angela.


Pauline Stewart has kindly agreed to remain a while longer as Head of Trails of Discovery.


During the past year we also welcomed Maggie Biggs as Head of Training. Having got off to a flying start her wings are somewhat clipped at the moment. Welcome, too, to Cherry-Anne Russell who has taken over our Arts Volunteering and is doing sterling work in amplifying the great stories of how we create all important impact in our many local communities. Through her efforts I for one have become much more aware of the myriad of fascinating projects our Societies enable. Thank you both and all the best in the months and years ahead.


And finally our Trustees. We say farewell to Alison Galvin-Wright our most experienced Trustee and Jacqui Varley who has served us well over the years. Thank you both for your time, energy, commitment and passion for The Arts Society. Your colleagues on the Board will miss you.


It is also my pleasure to welcome Sue Osbourne and Carolyn Trevor-Jones who newly elected as Trustees take office on June 4th at the AGM behind closed doors. Both have oodles of experience of The Arts Society. Congratulations to them!


Heartfelt thanks too to all our Members for making The Arts Society what it is. Stay connected, stay safe and keep smiling.



This blog is composed by Florian Schweizer, CEO of The Arts Society, and made up of contributions by him and invited guest bloggers.