AIMS NATIONAL SECRETARY REPORT FOR 2020/2021
The 2020 AGM was hosted by the Western Region in the Connaught Hotel, Galway City. The AGM elected outgoing Vice President Robert Donnelly (South Eastern Region) as President for the new season and Feargal Cavanagh (Western Region) was elected as Vice-President. Seamus thanked everyone for their courtesy and friendship in his visits to societies that it was an incredible honour to serve as President of an organisation with such creativity and love of musical theatre all over the island of Ireland. In an extensive address, Seamus thanked the national executive and council for all their hard work on behalf of the organisation. He also thanked his wife and family and members of his own society in Carrick on Suir for all their support and without this he would not have been able to carry out the role.
The 2020 AGM will be held in the Northern Region following a vote of delegates.
Councillors for 2019/2020
Eastern: Frank Foley (Secretary), Kate Furlong (PRO), Máirín Heffernan (Registrar), Noeleen Kelly, Catherine Lambe, Moira Nolan (Treasurer), Brian ONeill, Fiona Shirran
Northern: Angela Cunningham, Brendan Keohane, Maureen Keohane, Olive Melville & Gary Redpath
Midland: Frances Leahy, Ultan Keena, Gerry Sweeney
South East: Jamie Collins, Colm Moules, Robert Donnelly, Catherine Walsh.
South West: Niamh Chadwick, Margaret McGee, Seamus Power, Laura Ryan, Mary Smyth.
Western: Annette Cavanagh, Feargal Cavanagh (Vice President), Mary Heaney, Niamh Kelly Smith
Co-Options: Showtimes: Brandon Cogley Insurance Scheme: Billy Holmes, Choral Festival Adm. Lizzy Heffernan, Website Admin; Martin McNelis,
The Executive (consisting of the officers and Chairperson of any region not represented by officers) met every month and continued to take on the day-to-day running of the Association and members of National Council, meeting every second month, looked to the future of the organisation.
Eastern; 39 and ONE Junior societies.
South East 15
South West 25
Western: 17 Total; 127 and one Junior Societies.
COVID 19 and its Implications
In retrospect no one would have imagined the impact of COVID 19 on the island and all voluntary organisations, not only those involved in the Arts. With the immediate lockdown in mid March, (and Northern Ireland following soon after) some shows had to be cancelled mid production, others scheduled around Easter and early May. This caused a lot of anxiety for societies but also caused a lot of financial stress and losses for societies. As an organisation, it led to the decision to immediately cancel both the Choral Festival in New Ross and the Youth Weekend in Thurles. The decision was made to postpone the Awards Weekend in Killarney to mid September, this caused some reservations with societies who wished to stage rescheduled shows at this time. The decision was taken to proceed with the nominations in the various categories in May, as per usual. There was a detailed discussion on this issue, with twenty seven shows having been adjudicated in Gilbert Section and twenty nine shows adjudicated in Sullivan, which was a majority in each section. The decision was taken to proceed with the nominations in May virtually and the awards winners at a future date. To the end of the season in June 2020 forty one shows had been cancelled who would be normally part of the adjudication scheme season. We do know that this was not the end of the malaise, with rescheduled shows for the autumn being cancelled as well as shows that would have taken place from September to early December. But as we all well know, ‘The Show Must Go On’.
Adjudication & Awards Scheme
We have already made reference to the affect that COVID 19 on the season 2019/’20 but thanks to Tony McCleane Fay (Gilbert) and Billy Rea (Sullivan) for their hard work in adjudicating the societies around the country who got to the stage for the 2019/2020 season. Sincere thanks to the two adjudication liaison officers, Laura Ryan(Gilbert) and Maureen Keohane (Sullivan) for all their hard work but especially this season with all the various vagaries that it threw at us. Many thanks also to Noel Dundon for all his work on adjudicating the programmes. The nominations were announced virtually in May and thanks to all those who contributed to the success of the announcement and the various societies that were nominated. A bright glimmer of hope and sparkle during these dark times.
The announcement of the nominations did cause some issues around casting of certain shows like Hairspray and Ragtime. This issue was to be looked at going forward by National Council in consultation with the rights companies who give permission to stage the various shows.
Awards Weekend in Killarney
The Awards weekend also fell foul to COVID 19 with the cancelling of the weekend in June and a rescheduling for September but unfortunately this also being cancelled. It had been decided by National Council to proceed with a possible virtual announcement of the Awards winners on September 19th. This task was taken on by Weekend Administrator Fiona Shirran with her sub committee. Even though there was some hiccups with internet coverage, the adage the show must go on again came into play with a great evening of entertainment on display. Sincere thanks to Fiona the weekend sub committee and to all the performers, David Hayes MD and the orchestra and all who made the evening such a success. Hats off to our technical wizards, Vinny Osborne and Jason Fallon, for their expertise, to Fergal D’arcy our unflappable MC for the evening and to Gr8Events and Colm Moules for handling ticket sales for the event. Congratulations to all the winners on the night and congratulations to the Overall Show Winners South Eastern Theatre Group, Waterford with CATS (Gilbert Section) and Athlone Musical Society with Joseph (Sullivan Section).
Sponsorship and Grant Funding
Again, during the season we found ourselves without a main sponsor. But again, COVID 19 had a severe affect on existing sponsorship and small grants we had been successful in gathering from previous season. Meetings have been held with the Arts Council regarding access to some government funding for both the organisation and societies. Further meetings are to be held in early 2021.
National Council decided to go ahead with the AIMS bursary this year and sincere thanks to the O Neill Family for continuing with their family bursary in honour of the late Anne. The auditions for these bursaries were also held virtually and thanks to the interview panel, Derek O Neill, Laura Ryan (AIMS) and Shane Farrell (Bravo Theatre Group) for their help and expertise. Winner of the Anne O Neill Bursary was David O Donovan, Clonmel. David has been a member and performed with Carrick on Suir Musical Society, St Mary’s MS Clonmel and Creative Minds. The winner of the AIMS bursary was Rua Barron from Dublin who has performed with Trinity College MS, Dublin. Best of luck to them in their future studies and careers. Sincere thanks to Deirdre Masterson and the American College for the provision of a bursary for their Musical Theatre Course and congratulations to Caoimhe Boyle the second recipient of this prestigious bursary.
Website and Social Media
Martin McNelis (South Western Region) took over as Website Administrator and was instrumental in the work behind our new website www.aims.ie which is being currently launched. We would encourage member societies to update their own information on the site and use the site for upcoming events. AIMS presence on Facebook and Twitter have increased through advertising of our members shows and events.
Child Protection and Vetting
This has been a valuable service to all societies. AIMS are still organising Garda Vetting procedures for societies at a small charge. Numbers using the service this season include 130 applications processed from twelve societies. Sincere thanks to Feargal Cavanagh Vice President (Western region) for all his work with this project.
Showtimes continues to hold its own in financial terms but it still continues to lack contributions from our member societies and the numbers of copies in circulation in print is decreasing but the electronic copies continue to grow. Sincere thanks to new editor Brandon Cogley for his hard work on Showtimes. Many thanks to those who give technical support to Showtimes and great credit is due to Richard Lavery for his help on this. Also thanks to Mary Smyth who looks after the circulation and also ensured that those who advertise pay up. This source of advertising continues to shrink but hopefully with increased electronic circulation new avenues of advertising will be tapped in the next season. Former National President, Seamus Power was appointed as Commercial Manager and thanks to his work on sourcing advertising during these barren times financially. COVID 19 has had an affect on articles and events so the Council have decided to decrease the number of editions during the next season.
Insurance Scheme and Charitable Status
The numbers changing to our very competitive insurance scheme had increased before the onslaught of COVID 19. At this stage many societies have paused all activities and will reactivate insurance when needed. Marsh Insurance Ltd continue to be our brokers with under writers HISCOX, London. National council also decided to relinquish our charitable status as the activities of the organisation are more for a non profit. More details on this issue and implications for organisation will be discussed at AGM
We express our deepest sympathy to all those who have lost a loved one in the course of the year. All our societies who have lost a valuable member. May they all, Rest in Peace.
Signed FRANK FOLEY 18TH JANUARY 2021