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2020 AGM

 We held our AGM on Thursday 26 November via Zoom. I'll include some of the paperwork, firstly my report::

Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery:    27th Annual Report

This has been a year like no other in our lifetime: the coronavirus pandemic has impacted our lives in a way we would not have thought possible. The museum and art gallery closed at the beginning of lockdown in March, and Swindon Borough Council have not considered it safe to reopen it until social distancing guidelines are no longer in operation. The building is apparently being checked regularly to ensure the safety of the collections. The museum staff are working from home, or redeployed elsewhere. The “Art on Tour” initiative started before the pandemic has been the public face of art in the town.  Katie Ackrill, engagement officer and Mags Parker, schools liaison officer, have done a brilliant online job, as well as with their Art on Trees initiative, and other initiatives in the pipeline. Their jobs have been extended to the end of 2021.

Like many people, the committee of the Friends adapted to virtual meetings via Zoom.  Keen to keep in touch with the membership, we approached potential speakers to deliver presentations via Zoom. We are indebted to those people who did this, including Jeremy Holt who gave two superb talks, Juliet Wood, Katie Ackrill and Mags Parker, Nicola Cornick, Michael Gray, Joseph Ingleby and Dr Mike Pringle. The online talks have been very successful, well attended and in many cases recorded, with links on the website and the blog where you can find an account of all our activities. We had five visits planned for this year, but in the end we were only able to visit, individually, the Sculpture in the Landscape 1969-2020 exhibition at West Leaze.

Last November, we were very pleased to help out at the private view of the Swindon Annual Open Exhibition, and give £100 to the prizewinner, Simone Dawood. Desmond Morris was kind enough to give us a painting of our choice from an exhibition in Oxford as a Christmas present; we unveiled the painting at a special social event in January, and it is a lovely addition to our other two paintings by him.

In January we held a tea party to say goodbye to Curator Sophie Cummings.   This was a sad event for us.   Sophie had transformed the gallery with frequent changes of exhibitions and well researched information panels, and had large audiences for her popular lunch-time talks. Sophie has not been replaced yet, and we are concerned that there is no designated visual arts specialist with responsibility for the Swindon Collection of 20th Century British Art which is widely recognised as being of national importance. 

We greeted the news that plans for the new Cultural Quarter were moving forward with enthusiasm.   DCA Consultants have given us ample information regarding their suggestions for a new gallery on the Kimmerfields site, the enormous building site north of Fleming Way. I am representing the views of the Friends in the advisory group for the Cultural Quarter, so please do let me know your views on the way forward.

The Friends’ committee gives invaluable service, and we try to keep things running smoothly, but there are inevitable changes.  Grateful thanks are due to Paul Gregory and Kathy Geddes who are standing down from their roles after several years, and to Adam Bartoszewski who has stood down as Treasurer.  We are pleased to welcome Brigid Harkness as our new Treasurer and Susanne Webb, Angela Atkinson and Barbara Swann who have also kindly agreed to join the committee. According to the Constitution I should be standing down after six years as Chair of the Friends.  However, no successor has yet presented themselves, so at the AGM I will be asking for you to approve an extension to my tenure at the AGM.

Finally I’d like to thank everyone involved with looking after Apsley House. Here’s hoping we can visit again before too long - maybe when we have vaccination certificates? Perhaps the £400k allocated in Swindon Borough Council’s 2020-2021 budget to improving Apsley House could be spent to aid the reopening. 

Linda Kasmaty

Chair, Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

Copy of 2019 minutes:


Annual General Meeting 

AGM held on Thursday 31st October 2019

Venue: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, Old Town. 

Apologies for absence:   Rachel Voyce, Martin Newman. Katie Ackrill, Janet Boulton, Adrian Moore, Maria Drysz, Lyn Davies, Sally Taylor, Nicky Alberry, Jane A    . Chris Barry. Matthew Bowman. Sarah Finch-Crisp. Carole & David Bent.

Present: 34 members.

To approve minutes of the AGM held on 25th October 2018: previously circulated to all members.  Amend under committee reports  ‘and 5 talks planned every month from February 2019’ change to ‘5 talks over the season starting February’.   Accepted as a true record. No matters arising.

       Proposed: Paul Gregory.  Seconded: David Hughes

To approve the annual report:  Proposed: Sophie Cummings.  Sec: Mike Bradley.

Dale Heenan, Councillor for Town Centre Arts & Heritage.   Outlined the three major projects for Swindon’s future:   SnowDome, Kimmerfields development, and a major change to Wyvern theatre area, as the land from Magistrates court to Central Library belongs to SBC.  Vision for a ‘Cultural Quarter’ to include a new theatre, museum and art gallery plus other public amenities.  These options to be considered next summer, following applications for grants and fund raising.  No encouraging words for Swindon Museum & Art Gallery.  Monies are assigned for improvements at current site, details not specified.

Sophie Cummings, Curator, expressed appreciation for the Friends support through volunteering, funding and assisting with Children’s Workshops, and the financial assistance for several items as follows: 

·       Conservations of Ivon Hitchins two works and Zara Green’s ‘Fairground’.

·         New acquisitions: works by Peter Waldron, David Gentleman, Lady Joffe’s donated work, Christopher Nevinson’s etching. 

·         Successes this year include Art on Tour with 24 works displayed at Steam and at Council Offices.  There are plans to display at schools.

      Fund raising for next year under discussion and costing may include:

·         Ceramic display cases to replace 1964 ones.

·         Interpretation boards to supplement ‘Made in Swindon’ exhibition.

·         Archaeology gallery could have a ‘hands-on’ area.

·         Conservation of official war artist Leslie Coles’s painting ‘Boy with Bird’.

·         A question on conservation of Harold Dearden works, Sophie replied as very fragile, currently too expensive.

To approve the annual accounts.

As at year end April 2019.

Income:  (subscriptions, raffle sales, donations).             £8120.25

Expenditure:  admin costs (printing, stationery, telephone, computer, fund raising costs).                                                                                     £1,703.69

Purchases:  (see item ‘Sophie Cummings, curator)         £3,136.71

                  Childrens’ Workshops.

Balance:                                                                            £4,136.69. 

Membership fees are up at £15 per person.

Talks and Trips contributed more this year partly due to self-drive or smaller coach to venues. 

Conservation of the Roman wine strainer £1000 was paid by one donation.

Cost of the magazine has increased, mostly covered by sponsorships.

To appoint/reappoint auditors and a member to be an observer.

To elect the Officers and Ordinary Members of the Committee.

Adam Bartoszewski (treasurer).   Rosemary Savage elected for 2 years. David Hughes joins committee.

And the ordinary members were voted in.

Proposed Sue Gray.  Seconded Jane Clarke.  Put to vote, passed.

To receive reports on the year from Committee members. Mike Bradley.

February.  Wine tasting at Magnums Wine Shop

Talks:   ‘ Wyvern Theatre, Modernist Gem or Brutal Eyesore’. Michael Gray

            ‘Threads in a Web’. David Lomax

             ‘Acquiring Works for National Trust’.  Emile de Bruijn

             ‘Out of the Box’.  David Bent

             ‘International Tennis Art.  Ann Sumner

             ‘Stone Age to Corinium’.  Amanda Hart

             ‘Ken White in conversation’ with Andy Binks, 2 evenings

             ‘Craft Matter’.  Isobel Dennis

Trips:    Victoria Art Gallery, Bath

              Sculpture Garden, Quennington

              Dulwich Picture Gallery

              Pembroke College, Oxford

Private View: Ken White exhibition.



 This year's minutes:

Annual General Meeting

AGM held on Thursday 26th November 2020

Via Zoom

1.       Apologies for absence:   Katie Ackrill, Susanne Webb, Jo Hutchings, Jane Boulton, Lyn Davies, Pascale Stacey, Alan Mitchell, Robert Jordan

Present: 42 members.

2.       To approve minutes of the AGM held on 31st October 2019: previously circulated to all members.  Accepted as a true record. No matters arising.

                Proposed: Sue Gray.  Seconded: Marion James.

3.       To approve the annual report:  Proposed: Martin Newman.  Seconded: Jane Caudwell.

4.       To approve the annual accounts.

As at year end April 2020.   

M Styles queried the £593.80 ‘assets’.   This is the addition of computer for Friends, for admin. and for Talks presentations at the museum.

A question on £3,091.40 for the magazine preparing and printing, sponsors were sought but ultimately insufficient forthcoming. 

                Proposed:  Marion James.  Seconded:  Kathy Geddes.

5.       To appoint/reappoint auditors and a member to be an observer.

Auditors:   accounts scrutinised by Julie New.  Observers: Linda Kasmaty, Jane Milner-Barry and Tim Carroll.

Proposed: Mike Bradley.  Seconded: Charles Stuart.

6.       To elect the Officers and Ordinary Members of the Committee.

The Chair’s term is the maximum of 6 years, however in the absence of a replacement the vote was put to the Friends to extend the tenure for a further 2 years, this was passed by everyone present.

We then voted in the Executive Members for another 2 years:

Chair: Linda Kasmaty was voted in

Vice chair:  Mike Bradley was voted in

Treasurer:  Brigid Harkness is taking over from Adam Bartoszewski who has had to retire on the grounds of ill health. Adam will be coming off the account entirely and will no longer have a debit card. Brigid will be allocated a debit card and FULL internet access and be the sole signatory for the account. Rosemary Yeldham-Savage(Membership Secretary) and Linda Kasmaty(Chair) will remain as Information Only and have View Only Access to internet banking. This proposal was unanimously passed and agreed by all present on Zoom.

Ordinary committee members:  Katie Ackrill,  David Hughes, Martin Newman, Rachel Voyce, Susanne Webb were voted in for one year.

New ordinary members: Angela Atkinson, Barbara Swann, Susanne Webb were voted in for one year.

Questions:  John Walsh, does the Charity Commission need to be informed of an extension to more than 6 years for the Chair?  This to be confirmed with Charity Commission.  LK

Ken Solomons, one of the auditors must be independent of The Friends.  This is confirmed by the Chair. LK.

                Put to vote, passed.  None against.

7.       To receive reports on the year from Committee members via a Power Point Presentation: Linda Kasmaty. With thanks to David Hughes for compiling it.

The response to the closure of Apsley House in March was to provide talks to the Friends via Zoom app.  The list of Speakers is given in the Chairman’s report.  The audiences grew quickly and for the Speakers there is the advantage in not having to travel.  Prior to the closure there was the private view of the Swindon Annual Open Exhibition where £100 was given to the winner.  In January a painting Desmond Morris had donated was unveiled and there was the farewell party to Sophie Cummings.

8.       To receive a report on the current closure of Apsley House.

Nicki Western confirms that Apsley House is visited once a week for building maintenance and by the collection team for continued safe storage of the works.

Nicki Western answer to a question of the addition of a notice outside the building: this could draw attention to the value of the contents with possible safety risk.

There has been constant hard work by Tracy White and Nicki on ART UK, a charity supporting museums and art galleries, the sale of prints of works from the Swindon Collection will help support the collections. Katie Ackrill and Mags Parker have been instrumental in providing ‘Art on Tour’, Art in Trees and the Schools project.

9.       To receive a report on the proposed Cultural Quarter at Kimmerfields.

·         The first presentation by Sam Rackham, Town Centre Development Project Manager for SBC.  L. Kasmaty is on the Advisory group for the Cultural Quarter. 

The plans for major developments at this designated site were explained with the aim of achieving social and economic benefit to the town centre with job creation and full economic activity.  Discussions continue with SBC and Swindon population.  A figure of £80 million and a construction time of 10 years is possible.

·         DCA Consultants David Clarke and Lucy McCall presented outlines of particular sections for art and media studies. museum, theatre, dance, library and heritage items.  The combination of these need input from all of us.  Also the use of current buildings where appropriate.

·         The need for suggestions from all involved in the future shape of the Swindon development.

10.   To consider any matter or proposal of which due notice has been given, in writing, to the Secretary or Chair.  None put forward.

11.   Discussion/AOB.  No AOB.  Discussions during the presentations. 


The meeting closed at 21.15hrs.

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