Answer Time - 4BRs 10 questions answered at the BFBB AGM


4BR put forward 10 questions at the recent BFBB AGM. These were the answers that came up.

BFBBAt the recent Annual General Meeting of the British Federation of Brass Bands, which took place at the BFBB National Office in Barnsley, 4BR put forward 10 questions that we felt needed to be answered by the organisation.

In what was a very interesting and at times quite a robust open forum, the BFBB responded to all the questions put to them.

1. The BFBB mission statement defines that the organisation aims to, ‘maintain, improve, represent and promote the practice and performance of brass band music in the UK seeking an increased participation in brass bands and their music as a result of BFBB support’.

Does the BFBB believe that it is doing this and is meeting its obligations as a registered charitable organisation?

In Chairman Robert Morgan’s report to the Executive Committee he stated:

”I make no apology for repeating a few sentences from my report last year.

The BFBB now has a firm financial base, good offices, reliable employees and an executive committee prepared to give their all for the movement. Without the BFBB we would have no Youth Championships, no English National, no EBBA representation, no CRB, no cheaper insurance, no registry, no Arts Council Funding and a multitude of other policies to assist bands.”

2. The BFBB reported a drop in membership to 230 bands in 2009.  The BFBB was asked in both 2008 and 2009 whether it could report from which regional areas of the country the membership came.
How many bands are currently members of the organisation, and from which of the eight regional areas, and in what sections, do they come from?

According to the report given Robert Morgan MBE, the number of member bands increased from 230 to 235 in the last year, but currently stands at 180 for this year – although that number should increase throughout the coming 12 months.

There were additional 40 youth bands members – a number that currently stands at 20. These organisations can join the BFBB free of charge.

The BFBB cannot at present tell from which regional areas of the country the bands come from, or from which sections.   

3. What work are the BFBB currently undertaking to increase membership, and what has been achieved in this respect in the past 12 months?

There was no specific report on what work was undertaken to increase membership in the past year, although Robert Morgan did state in his report that ‘…hopefully the range of services that we are able to offer will encourage more bands to take up membership in the future’.  

It was reported that funding for the posts for the recruitment of a liaison officer and administrative assistant has been successful, which it is hoped will lead to initiatives and projects for increasing membership numbers in the future.

4. The 2009 – 2013 BFBB Strategic Plan stated that a total of 61 ‘goals’ were to be met by the organisation by March 2010.

These included 17 Governance, 9 Financial, 14 Development, 6 Marketing, 8 Partnership & Liaison and 5 e-communications objectives as diverse as: ‘successfully recruiting a marketing and liaison officer and administrative assistant by June 2009’; ‘to explore use of a ‘company retreat’ as an effective way of defining aspirations and goals and checking shared vision’ and ‘to identify skills gaps of the Executive Committee and fill them’.

How many of these have been met in full, partially met, or not met at all by the date outlined in the Strategic Plan, and how many of the remaining goals are likely to be met by 2013?

It was reported that at the present time, 47 of these ‘goals’ had been achieved, with 10 ‘near completion’ and 5 that will either not be, or cannot be met.

The BFBB Development Officer Philip Watson confirmed that written reports, procedures, notes, returns and policies were now in place to back each of these strategic plan goals.

A ‘Traffic Light’ report on the targets was made available for delegates and the press to confirm progress made.

5. According to the BFBB website the Development Officer is currently undertaking two current projects – the ‘Bandstand Marathon’ (started in 2008), and Barnardo’s Brass Appeal (started in January 2009).

The Development Officer did not give a written report of his activities to the AGM in 2009 and the last reported news on the BFBB website of the Development Officer’s work was dated June 2009.  

Will the Development Officer be giving a report to the 2010 AGM outlining his work and achievements of the past twelve months, and a further indication of what projects he will be working on in 2010 and beyond?

For the second successive year, the Development Officer to the Annual General Meeting submitted no formal written report.

Robert Morgan confirmed that no report had in fact been requested, although that may well be changed in future. Philip Watson was thanked for his work, and it was agreed that the current BFBB website did not give an accurate reflection of the current workload and the number of projects and initiatives currently undertaken.  

6.  The BFBB currently runs the English National Brass Band Championships.

As a ‘National’ organisation how does the promotion of this contest reflect the BFBB’s own mission statement?

What are the BFBB’s aims and objectives for this contest for the future?

The contest was now in its fifth year, and there was disappointment in respect to the number of withdrawals for this year’s event, especially in light of the support given by the bands when last consulted.

Although there was disappointment that a number of high profile bands had withdrawn, there was still a healthy demand for places at the contest.

The BFBB will review the contest after this year’s event in Preston, but remains adamant that the promotion of an English National contest fits firmly into its remit.

Cost implications of moving the event (Preston Guild Hall is provided virtually free), as well as the overall implications of qualification to the European Championships will also be considered and discussed.    

The BFBB felt that press coverage has not been always positive given that the event is primarily an ‘English National Championship’ and that the organisation had been left with a great deal of work to do in developing the contest after initial support from sponsors had fallen away.   

7. In 2009 the BFBB reported that it was to receive the proceeds of a legacy worth approximately £56,000 from the estate of the late Norman Jones to be set up in a trust fund.

Has the BFBB received this money, set up the appropriate trust fund, and what are its provisions, aims and objectives?  

Final details of the Trust are now in place, with a fund of £62,500 to be administered. The fund will not have charitable status and it is envisaged that it will be time finite.

The objects of the Trust are as follows:

”To purchase equipment for the benefit of individual members of member bands and/or the benefit of the member bands from time to time of the BFBB in order to educate individuals and members of the brass band community and/or to facilitate the running of the brass band community and promote the brass band community to its members and the wider public.”

Initial enquiries of interest will be requested from member bands as soon as possible.  

8. At the 2009 AGM, it was stated that the BFBB would initiate dialogue and communication with contest promoters such as Kapitol Promotions who run the National Brass Band Championships, to try and work in partnership with them for the benefit of bands.

What progress has the BFBB to report on this?  

The BFBB has worked in partnership with the Association of Brass Band Adjudicators to hold a Summit meeting of iterated parties in Birmingham on 3rd July entitled, ‘Time to Move Forward - A Key Event to Define the Future'

The initiative will see contest owners, Associations, Regional Committees and other interested groups discuss the current issues facing banding today and hopefully start to define a way forward for the British banding movement.

Further details at:

9. What role does the British Brass Band Registry play in the overall promotion of the BFBB’s aims and objectives?

Has the BFBB encouraged dialogue between the Welsh and Scottish Registry’s and what progress has been made to bring the rules of each organisation in line with each other?  

The Registry continues to play a vital role in the BFBB overall commitment to the banding movement.

The registry did make a small loss in the last financial year, but it was reported that co-operation between the registries of Wales and Scotland ‘works well’ and the registry continues to ‘operate well’ under the management of Colin Johnson and line manager Frank Hodges.

There are currently approximately 490 bands and 16,500 registered players.

10. In 2009, the financial report stated that the BFBB would bring in different methods by which potential member bands could pay their £100 a year fee.

Has this been done?

Unfortunately it is impossible for the BFBB to set up a Direct Debit payment facility for bands, but a Standing Order facility is available so bands can pay their £100 per annum fee broken into five regular payments of £20.00 each throughout their financial year.


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