Friends of the Charles Parker Archive: AGM 2016

Minutes of AGM held Thursday 20th October 2016 at The Library of Birmingham

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

2. Chairman’s Welcome and Opening Remarks
The Chairman welcomed Friends and Trustees present.  She introduced Phil Maguire, our newest Trustee and welcomed him to his first Friends AGM.  She explained that Phil would make a presentation later in the meeting describing his appreciation of Charles Parker’s work and the development of his own career and in particular the establishment of Prison Radio.
She noted that Matthew Parker had ceased to be the Trust’s Honorary Treasurer although there remained a vacancy for the position.  She spoke of Matthew’s long association with the Trust and referred to his article in both the latest Annual Report and past ones in which he had documented the early days of the Trust and the difficulties faced and overcome in establishing both the Trust and a home for the Archive, his late father’s life work.
She welcomed Damian Le Bas who is involved with the project the Trust is assisting in cooperation with Rural Media and she invited Damian to say more later.
Mary then invited everyone to introduce themselves.

3. Approval of minutes of the last meeting: Friends AGM held 15th October 2015
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.

4. Review of Annual Report and Trust activities
4.1  Chairman’s Report
Mary Kalemkerian introduced the latest Annual Report.  She thanked Ian Parr for filling in as editor when Sara Parker’s work commitments made completion of the Report difficult.  She went on to say that the latest Report had contributions from all Trustees, in addition to Tim Blackmore’s contributions and that of Corinna Rayner giving an update on the Library management affecting the Archive.  She thanked everyone who had contributed to make this the most extensive Report in the Trust’s history.

Mary went on to explain that at the Trustees’ AGM it had been agreed to make changes to the Report.  Current plans were to introduce a magazine type of publication prior to Charles Parker Day and to retain the essential reporting side of the Annual Report to a statement of some kind.  Further discussions were necessary and Friends would be kept informed.

Continuing the review she said how much she had enjoyed Charles Parker Day in Bristol and thanked Andy Cartwright and all those other Trustees and speakers involved in the event.  Finally, the Chairman explained that following the successful recruitment of additional Friends through the revised subscription procedure adopted for Charles Parker Day this year, Helen Lloyd was now the Archive’s Friends Co-ordinator.  She would be developing the future organisation of Friends of the Archive.  The aim was to ensure the long-term commitment of the Trust to Friends in terms of increase in numbers and activity.  Helen had set out her thoughts in the Annual Report.
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 2016 Report and future arrangements
Andy Cartwright explained that this year’s Annual Report provided the basis for what he was to say.  He and the other Trustees were very pleased with the support we had received from University of the West of England and with the speakers and especially Peggy Seeger who once again had contributed to the success of the occasion.
2017 CP Day, he said, will be on Friday 7th April and our hosts are to be Hallam University, Sheffield. The focus of the Day will be on local radio and a celebration of fifty years of local and community broadcasting.  There would be several speakers with experience of that time and subsequently.  Sheffield as the second oldest local radio station would feature in several items and it was hoped to build upon previous events and discuss and re-enact in some way programmes made about steel perhaps the 2006 radio ballad “Song of Steel”.

4.3  Presentation by Phil Maguire
The Chairman invited our newest Trustee, Phil Maguire, to introduce himself and describe his work which she felt followed closely the paths trodden by Charles Parker in his work with neglected and alienated communities, including work at Winson Green Prison in Birmingham.

Phil Maguire then described his background as a BBC producer and his involvement in the earliest days with provision of radio broadcasts made specifically for the prison service and for prisoners. The PRA website summarises much of the presentation.
Briefly, the initial location was Brixton in London and its success in engaging with prisoners led to the establishment, when Jack Straw was Home Secretary, of National Prison Radio in 2009.  Prisoners are trained and make the programmes assisted by a small team of professionals.   The organisation has won many awards and its work is internationally recognised and is now part of a larger network established in Hungary, Israel, Scandinavia and Trinidad & Tobago.  NPR won the UK Charity of the Year this year, 2016.

For the future Phil sees the development of smartphone apps to assist the follow up of prisoners when they are released so as to provide further help for them and their families so that re-offending is less frequent.
There were many questions.  The following is a summary of some answers:

  • Broadcast to 109 prisons around the UK
  • There are some local radio stations in prisons which include topics such as interviews with the Governor, how to “go straight” etc.
  • Much of the content is music
  • The studio HQ is in Brixton, for women Styal near Manchester
  • Producers travel around the country interviewing, gathering other material and running programmes
  • Nothing is live – but is recorded close to the broadcast deadline – reasons are security and practicality
  • All prisoners who work in Prison Radio receive a certificate in radio production
  • Each prison cell has a radio and tv with ten channels
  • Broadcasts use a closed satellite so nothing can be heard outside the prison. Most of the output is music with speech at identified key times in the schedule.
  • All requests have to come by letter, emails are not permitted. Prisoners must buy their own stamps.
  • Future developments include extending the service to children’s homes.

The Chairman drawing the discussion to an end thanked Phil Maguire for his informative presentation.  She reminded the meeting that Phi had also written an informative article for the Annual Report.  She went on to remark how important the work of NPR is and that  Jimmy Ewing, a Trustee and himself winner of a Charles Parker Prize, had worked for Prison Radio in the past.

5. Items arising from 2015 Friends Annual Meeting
5.1  Travellers Times project update
The Chairman introducing Damian Le Bas explained that Trustees had been involved with Travellers Times newspaper and with Rural Media for several years generally arising from the Archive content of recordings made for the Radio Ballad “The Travelling People”.  Much of this has been reported at Charles Parker Days and in the Trust Annual Report.  We have now reached a stage in which Heritage Lottery Funding has been made available to develop a project which to date has not been fully defined but which involves using the Archive recordings to inform and enhance the development of a Traveller community voice.  She invited Damian to introduce himself and explain the Rural Media project and background to it.

Damian explained that he had previously been editor of Travellers Times, a newspaper and on-line journal.  He worked with traveller groups and communities.  Rural Media is an organisation which supports community groups, one of which is the traveller and gypsy community in the UK with connections across Europe.  The current project undertakes to provide traveller groups with the capability to draw from their past and develop a voice to better represent their community interests. The intention is to provide training so that travellers have the capability to manage their own communications.  This requires them to have the skills and the information they need – including background to how they are where they are.  That is where the Radio Ballad “The Travelling People” comes in.  Damian described it as “…the greatest radio broadcast… nothing of that standard has been done before or since…..most nuanced…”  He said that too many travellers even today are being locked up and this was down to the perceptions of society at large and to the inability of travellers themselves to recognise how the broader society needs to be aware of them and their different requirements.
He explained that he had been travelling around the country meeting traveller groups.  He found, as many in this meeting would be aware, that songs from the Radio Ballad were being sung and were identified as Traveller/Romany songs.  He was aware that there were recordings in the Archive of traveller dialect which would show differences to modern traveller speech.  That was important culturally and using the various social media available with the right training young travellers would be able to provide positive messages and promote goodwill towards their society.  Thus it is necessary to open up a range of multi-media platforms and he explained that the BBC has already been supporting Travellers Times in some of this.  See “atching tan”  a resting place or in Romany “a place where fires are lit”.
There was considerable discussion and debate;  Sara Parker noted the importance of involving young people in traveller groups and Damian explained that there was a substantial section of travellers under 30 years of age.
Maureen Davis said that she found the presentation involving and interesting and that “…this is important and we are continuing Charles’ belief in the value of the voice of ordinary people…”
The meeting formally approved the use of the Archive material for the “Ballad of the Travelling People” project and work associated with it.  Proposed Ian M Parr, seconded Mary Kalemkerian.
Mary then thanked Damian for his presentation and said she looked forward to further developments.

5.2   Centre 42 discussion
Arnold Wesker died in April this year.  The intention had been to interview him regarding Centre 42.  There was no note in the Annual Report of his death and that will be considered for the next issue.     Action:  Secretary and Sara Parker 

6. 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 Sheffield on Friday 7th April next year.
She announced that the next friends AGM would be on Thursday 19th October 2017 commencing at 3.30p.m.  The meeting location would be notified later.

The Chairman declared the meeting closed at 5.05pm

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