Friends of the Charles Parker Archive: AGM 2015

Minutes of AGM held Thursday 15th October 2015 at The Library of Birmingham

The meeting commenced at 3.35 pm
1. Present: Mary Kalemkerian (Chairman), Andy Cartwright, Helen Lloyd, Sara Parker, Ian Parr (Hon Sec).
Friends: Rosie Cartwright, Patrick Costello, Maureen Davis, Steve May, Eileen Whiting,
Apologies: Pam Bishop, Peter Cox, Simon Elmes, Jimmy Ewing, Alan Hall, Matthew Parker (Hon Treasurer)
Friends: Joy Ashworth, Sarah Baylis, Tim Blackmore, Cathy Mackerras, Fiona Tait, Gillian Reynolds, Robert Whitworth

2. Chairman’s Welcome and Opening Remarks
The Chairman welcomed Friends and Trustees present. Since this was her first Friends meeting as Chairman she then invited everyone to introduce themselves.
On behalf of a number of Trustees who for various reasons weren’t able to attend or who had left early she apologised and said that the meeting this year seemed to coincide with so much else going on as well as the difficulties over the Library facilities and opening times.
She went on to say she is proud to follow in a line of eminent Chairmen of the Trust and thanked Tim Blackmore especially for the leadership he has provided during his time as Chairman.

3. Approval of minutes of the last meeting: Friends AGM held 16th October 2014
The minutes were approved following a proposal by Helen Lloyd, seconded by Andy Cartwright.  The Secretary informed the meeting that matters arising were covered by the agenda.
Patrick Costello said that he would like to update the meeting on various matters associated with his grandmother Cecilia Costello.  The Chairman noted this be added to the agenda. See item 5.3.

4. Review of Annual Report and Trust activities
4.1 Chairman’s Report
Mary Kalemkerian introduced the latest Annual Report.  She went on to say she thought this year’s Report continued the progress made in the range and interest of the publication and she thanked Sara Parker for her efforts.  The variety of articles, she said, reflected the widening of the Trust’s activities and she looked forward to continuing the progress described in the item on the “Travellers’ Times” project.  (See 5.2)
Continuing the review she said how much she had enjoyed Charles Parker Day in Glasgow and thanked Andy Cartwright and all those other Trustees and speakers involved in the event.
She recalled we had lost some of our most valued friends since the last AGM.  The Secretary and Treasurer and our past treasurer, Robert Whitworth, earlier this year had attended a commemoration service for Philip Cox one of our longest serving trustees who had died the previous autumn.  She drew the meeting’s attention to the death of Roy Palmer, whose contribution to folk song and folk lore was the subject of a tribute by Pam Bishop and Graham Langley in the Trust Annual Report.  The Annual Report also included a copy of a FaceBook message received in November 2014 just a few weeks before her death from Sheila Stewart MBE recounting her time with Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger and Charles Parker and with specific reference to Centre 42. (See also 4.3.1)
The Chairman then explained developments in the Trust organisation. She said she was delighted Simon Elmes had been able to become a Trustee taking over the vacancy from Tim Blackmore.  She described Simon’s time as Chairman of the Charles Parker Prize committee for eleven years (from its inception) and his outstanding contribution whilst with the BBC until his recent retirement.  She said that in future he would be heading the Trust’s management of the CP Prize, relinquishing his role as Chair but still a member of the judging panel.
One aspect of the Trust’s work that had developed substantially, Mary Kalemkerian said, had been our presence in the social media.  She acknowledged the work of Trustees especially Jimmy Ewing for bringing the CP Prize winners and their productions into the public arena.
Finally the Chairman explained that Trustees had reviewed how Friends subscriptions operated and how it contributed to Trust funds.  It had been decided that subscriptions would in future be £10 and £5 for unwaged. We have yet to decide how to handle membership from organisations, but we were committed to extending membership in that area.  It was important we identified those we wished to be associated with and how that would be managed.
The Chairman then asked Andy Cartwright to update the meeting on Charles Parker Day and she would open the floor to questions and answers following Andy’s report.

4.2 Charles Parker Day 2015 Report and future arrangements
Andy Cartwright explained that this year’s Annual Report provided the basis for what he was to say.  With some reservations, mainly around timing of speakers’ contributions, he felt the Day had been satisfactory and that in celebrating Ewan MacColl it opened the way for us to welcome Calum MacColl in 2016.  He felt that 2016 should reflect Charles Parker’s deep interest and involvement in theatre and drama and that CP Day would be held in Bristol – probably at the Arnolfini Centre, part of the University of the West of England. It would be held on Friday 18th March.
Bristol is also a BBC hub for drama therefore he thought it would be appropriate to focus primarily upon that topic and on community radio which is also strong in Bristol.  It was hoped to “build” a radio programme in front of the audience on the Day in a manner similar to one at Salford two years ago which replicated making one of the “new” radio ballads.  A further proposed item would feature one or more Trustees or Friends presenting their own choice of clips from the Archive.

4.3 Response of the meeting
4.3.1 Eileen Whiting said she was fascinated by the prospect of some emphasis on Centre 42 for CP Day.  She recalled the making of “Dog in a Manger” which, she said, brought Arnold Wesker to Birmingham and it was the collaboration between Wesker and Charles which led to the inception of Centre 42.  Sara Parker said that, following discussions amongst Trustees, she planned to interview Arnold Wesker as soon as possible and that Eileen’s remarks provided further material.
4.3.2 Steve May, said he enjoyed Charles Parker Day in Glasgow especially the venue, its location and accessibility.  He hoped Bristol would be as good.  Andy Cartwright said that arrangements were still at an early stage but he observed how the organisation of the event had developed as the Trust took on more of the responsibility for the organisation.
4.3.3 Helen Lloyd said that she was pleased the Chairman had referred to the memorial service for Philip Cox and she reminded the meeting of the presentation she had made to the 2013 meeting of Friends when she had played parts of recordings she had made of Philip.

Secretary’s Note! Following is the relevant part of those minutes, “She explained that the recordings were made as part of the Millennium Project “The Century Speaks” and that Philip represented one of the voices of the justice system. Details are on the British Library Oral History website

4.3.4 Ian Parr said that it is important for us to remember those people who are important to the Trust and the history it represents.  We should also not lose sight of how the Archive introduces us to new people and new voices.  He recalled a phone call in September with Brian Bird who had contacted the Library which led to their conversation.  He explained that Brian had been a senior shop steward at Rover and had been interviewed by Charles Parker in connection with the Saltley Gate picketing during the Miners Strike.  He had been a member of the Clarion Singers and knew Ian Campbell from his time with them.  He had also been a Labour councillor for twenty five years.  He currently lives in Edgbaston and his initial contact with the Library was to obtain a copy of the interview with Charles.  As Secretary, Ian Parr, had consulted other Trustees and had informed the Library of our agreement for Brian to have a copy of the interview.  He had yet to follow up the contact but it had been suggested that Brian be asked to record his experiences for the Archive.  Following a brief discussion Ian Parr said he would contact Brian Bird again to follow up and arrange a meeting if that was possible.  Action: Secretary

5. Items arising from 2014 Friends Annual Meeting
5.1 Birmingham Media School update
The Secretary reported there had been no communication from Sam Coley for a while and he had received no apologies in connection with this meeting. It was agreed to contact Sam Coley and report back.  Action: Secretary
5.2 Meeting between Trustees, British Library and Travellers Times
The Chairman referred to the item in the Annual Report and gave a further explanation of the item and the consequential events including a meeting held earlier in the year.  This had been positive and established a basis for the Trust to work with the other two parties to enable recordings, mostly field recordings, from the Archive made during “The Travelling People” Radio Ballad to be used to develop a community archive for the Travelling and Gypsy communities in the UK.  One outcome is that Trustees recognise the need to create a more focussed approach to use of Archive copyright material.  She would report on this aspect and progress with the other parties in due course through the Trust website.
5.3 Patrick Costello: Additional material relating to Cecelia Costello
Patrick Costello explained that he is a grandson of Cecilia Costello.  Following Rod Stradling’s issue of her recordings including those from the Archive he had found several items relating to his grandmother.  He also referred to the website http://www.freewebs.com/ceciliacostello/
He produced a list comprising 19 items of various sorts, the first a copy of a handwritten letter from Charles to his father Edward Costello dated 11th August 1976 relating to Cecilia.  A copy of the list and a reduced size letter are appended to these minutes.  He went on to explain his interest in folk song and admiration for Ewan MacColl’s work and his own involvement in Bromsgrove Folk Festival.

Secretary’s note! The following is a link to a video Roy Palmer made of Cecilia Costello

6. “Charles Parker as I knew him” Sara Parker
The Chairman explained that this item arose from discussions about a framework for the Trust to publicise what it is and what it is about and, in particular, Charles Parker as a person.  It had been suggested by Simon Elmes and Sara Parker had agreed to institute the first contribution.
Sara then went on to describe her father relating his well-known eccentricities such as retreating under the piano when he had a migraine.  However, his war service as a submarine officer and being awarded a DSM was not so well known.  She also described how his wife (Sara’s mother) who thought she was marrying a naval officer found in time he had turned into a Marxist.  Sara recounted other family stories bringing to the meeting her personal perspective.
The Chairman thanked Sara for her descriptions of her father and some of the events which affected her life and his impact upon her work.

7. Date, timing and location of next Friends AGM
Drawing the meeting to a close the Chairman expressed her thanks to everyone for a stimulating meeting and she looked forward to seeing everyone at Charles Parker Day in Bristol on Friday 18th March next year.
She announced that the next friends AGM would be on Thursday 20th October 2016 commencing at 3.30p.m.  The meeting would be held in the present room, The Brainbox, and had already been booked.

The Chairman declared the meeting closed at 5.05p.m.

 

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