Chairman’s message July 2024

Dear Members

As summer has finally arrived and we come to the end of the current academic year, it seems a good time to write and update you on what has been happening at our Society.

Since my last message, we have continued to make good progress in returning to a firmer financial footing. We have managed to provide a very rich and balanced programme of events both in-person and via Zoom, thanks to the tireless efforts of our Organisers and those working behind the scenes on the Committee, all volunteers, as well as our wonderful Administrative Assistant, Judith Burt, who in addition to all her other tasks ensures that all our events on Zoom run smoothly.

Challenges remain, as bookings are still made much later than was the case pre-pandemic, and we often lack much-needed certainty when planning in-person events. Rising venue costs mean that more participants are needed for an event to cover its costs and we often face a difficult decision on whether to cancel or to move an event to Zoom in sufficient time to cancel a venue without incurring penalties. We understand that such decisions may not always be popular but hope that you understand why they are made.

Given the rising costs associated with our routine Society activities – the Review, member lectures, general administration – and to ensure our continuing financial viability, the Committee has decided on a further small increase in the membership fee – from £30 to £35 for a standard single membership and from £55 to £65 for a joint membership. This increase will apply to all membership renewals due from 1 August 2024 forwards. If membership continues at its current level, we are hopeful that we will not need to raise fees again next year. We will however continue to keep the situation regarding membership and study event fees under review.

Committee Members
First and foremost, I am sure you will join me and my fellow Committee members in thanking John Dunlop, who stepped down from the Committee on 1st July after more than 21 years of loyal service to the Society. Over the years, he has held the positions of Chairman, Treasurer and Webmaster, often simultaneously, and has been instrumental in setting up the website, enabling online booking and putting many of our systems in place. The Society would not be where it is today without his hard work and leadership.

John’s “retirement” has only been made possible thanks to new volunteers stepping forward.

I am delighted to announce that one of our members, Sue Preston, volunteered for the role of Treasurer and took over from John on 1st July. Sue is a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Adviser and, in addition to other voluntary roles, is outgoing Treasurer of the Egypt Exploration Society.

Another member, Arthur Sexton, has offered to take over responsibility for the website and general IT management from John, but without becoming a member of the Committee, again with effect from 1st July. Arthur has a background in software and operations.

Please join me in welcoming Sue and Arthur to their new roles.

Finally, I am also very happy to let you know that two of our current Committee members, Gillian Robinson and Vicky O’Keeffe have agreed to share the role of Deputy Chairman.

As always, we appreciate any offers of assistance from our members. It can be for something as simple as helping pour coffee at an event, taking the register or liaising with an event organiser to help welcome new members.

More specifically, as I mentioned in my New Year’s Message, we would welcome assistance from any members who have a marketing background. Whilst our membership is relatively stable, we cannot be complacent and do need to ensure that we maintain or slightly increase our membership. For any more technically-minded members, we would welcome assistance with delivering hybrid events.

If you would like to offer your help or have a chat about what might be involved, please feel free to contact me via my email address,

The Year Ahead
We have enjoyed a very varied programme of courses and study events so far this year and received much excellent feedback. Plans for the 2024-25 academic year are equally diverse and will include courses on Byzantine Architecture, the Art of Eastern Europe, High Renaissance Rome and the Barbizon School, as well as study days on Caspar David Friedrich, Urbino and Mantua, Medieval English Churches, Medieval Coronations and Imperial Garden Cities. Further City walks are also planned as well as visits to St Paul’s and Angels Costumiers. You will also soon receive with your copy of the Review the full programme of member lectures for 2024-25. Wherever possible, we recommend early booking, not only to secure your place but also to give us certainty about whether an event will be financially viable.

If you have any ideas for future events and visits, please do let us know.

We are also excited about the prospect of establishing even closer ties with Birkbeck in the Autumn, in the context of their new Murray Research Centre for the History of Art. More news about that to follow later in the year.

Thank you all again – members, Committee, volunteers and Judith – for your continuing support and contributing to our successful and vibrant Society.

Jeanette McCauley