(This is the first substantive post in this blog. I am making this in my capacity as Chairman of SWYM, the Society for Wessex Young Musicians. Please see the Welcome post for disclosure and other important background.) (Comment added 1136 UK time on 11 Dec 2016: I have been asked to make clear that this is my personal view, and I am not speaking on behalf of the SWYM Committee. I am very happy to do this: as mentioned below, the Chairperson of an organisation has extra responsibility to the organisation’s members to speak out if actions are being taken that appear to be against what they have voted for.)
The main reason for launching this blog is to try to resolve important questions of governance and culture within SWYM that have arisen in the last 3 months, but unfortunately have so far failed to be resolved internally. All Committee members are involved in governance matters, but as SWYM Chairman, I have a particular duty to try to ensure that as a body we operate in accordance with our Constitution, and to keep SWYM members informed about any significant issues that arise.
I shall try to keep things as far as possible to matters of fact. I stress that there is no disagreement about the musical aspects of the Centre, merely questions of governance/culture and what the boundaries are between what CWYM/College staff do and what SWYM is entitled to do.
The first key issue is that the director of the Centre for Wessex Young Musicians (CWYM) and the Wessex Youth Orchestra (WYO), Susanna Riddell, has claimed on several occasions that she (and she alone) has overall control of the Society. For example in an email to the Committee dated 4 November 2016 (the bold emphasis is mine):
While the first part of this sentence is correct, the bold part is directly contradicted by the Society’s Constitution, under which the only mention of the CWYM Director is in paragraph 5 I d) which states that the Centre Director shall be an ex Officio (see note * below) member of the SWYM Committee:
and (with regard to her claim about finances) paragraph 10 a) which states:
The Executive Committee shall be responsible for the overall financial control of the Society funds.
Despite repeated requests internally for evidence to support her claim to have complete control over the SWYM Committee, the CWYM Director has so far failed to provide any. In the absence of any evidence, it seems very clear to me that the Constitution implies that members control SWYM, through the Committee that they elect at the AGM each November.
This question is of fundamental importance to the operation of the Society, and it is right therefore that members be aware of it and that it be resolved as quickly as possible. (For example, the CWYM Director has asked the Committee not to meet until further notice from her.)
I am therefore repeating my request (by informing the CWYM Director and the College – via email to Jacqui Kitcher, Director of Learning, Creative Industries – today of this blog and this post) for evidence so that this question can be settled ideally as soon as possible. I will post any replies here (or the CWYM Director/College are of course free to post comments directly on this blog).
Note *: an ex Officio member of a Committee is someone who is automatically a member of that Committee by virtue of his or her office, and – unless stated otherwise, which is not the case here – has exactly the same voting rights – no more or less – as any other Committee member.
(Update added at 1423 on 17 Dec 2016: this is part 1 of related blog posts, see here for part 2)