Chairman's Report Northumbria Basketry Group 10th Anniversary Celebration Exhibitions

What a wonderful series of exhibitions this turned out to be.

First a very special thank you to the core group of organisers, Sheila Walton, Charlotte Boxall and Anna Turnbull who devoted a very considerable amount of time and energy to ensuring the success of the celebration exhibitions. Organising such a series of events was very much unknown territory and numerous meetings were held at a central location to attempt to create a model that would fit with expectations. Not all the paths pursued were fruitful. One disappointment was the lack of positive outcome from the bid for Lottery Funding. If anything this rejection resulted in a renewed spirit of endeavour from the organisers with the emphasis moving to seeking voluntary contributions from NBG members to ensure success. With the overall framework agreed and the first event at Durham Dales about to become a reality the focus moved to taking care of the many details such as the layout of items and sytems to ensure the speedy replication of the layout in future exhibitions. Helpers were contacted and rotas organised. The all-important data systems were set up, including the placing of 'expression of interest' forms that visitors would use to register interest in future workshops. The materials for the drop-in sessions and venue workshops were got ready. The level of management of the exhibitions throughout was to a high standard and the recording of the data has been exemplory. Well done!

Would the outcomes from the celebrations been different if the group had received the funding from the lottery bid? We shall never know. What we do know is that many makers offered baskets and other items for the exhibition. Over 30 people gave time for setting up and stewarding exhibitions and we were never short of offers for storage space for the many items between the various venues. This was important as over 100 items were displayed and needed to be stored for several weeks at a time. Over 4000 people visited the exhibition. At the Beamish event the figure was just short of 2000. Beamish was also the place where word got round that children could make stars at the drop-in event and volunteers were kept extremely busy right up to the closing time on the final day!

Fourteen baskets were recorded at the Heritage basket activity. Thirty eight individuals signed up for workshops over seven sessions at three venues. Liz Balfour's book, "The Fishing Baskets of Northumbria" sold 41 copies.

I would like to thank the Northumberland National Park Authority for the very important grant of £1350. Income in the form of commissions and donations at the various venues amounted to £900.35, giving a total income of £2250.35. Total expenditure, including £819 mileage cost for volunteers, amounted to £3133.85. A remarkable outcome when the complexity of the activities is taken into account.

To meet the expressions of interest received at the venues the group has so far organised seven beginners workshops, two at Hepple, two at Newton, two in Wooler and one in Wolsingham, and more workshops are in the pipeline. The exhibitions have raised the profile of the group and membership has increased by 30% since the beginning of 2017. Efforts to promote the celebration activities on Facebook and Twitter have resulted in an astonishing increase in the number of people on the website news distribution list from just over 100 to 770 from all over the globe.

To conclude the 10th Anniversay Celebration Exhibitions have been a success and made a significant contribution to the aims of the group in promoting the study and practice of basketry and allied crafts in the greater Northumbria area. Thank you to everyone who has been involved.

Alan Winlow January 2018

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