Chain Stitch sample by Sally McCollins

Annual General Meeting

of

The Embroiderers’ Guild

9th July 2022

10:30am – 12:00 noon


Our 2022 AGM will again be held online.  Our reasons for doing this are to provide an opportunity for as many members who wish to, to be able to attend.  Some members may still need to socially isolate or find travelling long distances difficult and expensive.  For the Guild itself an online AGM, if a little daunting, is cost effective and easier to organise.

Following members approval of the resolution presented at last year’s AGM, formal notifications of this years meeting will be emailed to members in mid-June. Those members who do not currently have a valid email address in our database will continue to receive their notifications through the post.

This meeting will be a free member only on-line webinar. Maximum capacity will be 900 attendees, so places will need to be booked ahead of time. A link that will enable members to book their ticket for the event will be included in the formal notification.

Agenda

  1. Welcome
  2. Apologies for absence
  3. Minutes of the AGM held on 5th June 2021 (No matters arising)
  4. The Trustees
  5. Trustees Report
    • Finance overview
    • Review of Activities
  6. Review of resolution being put to members: increase of membership fees
  7. Questions from members

Details of other business or questions should be sent:

By email to: Trustees@embroiderersguild.com before the 25th June

By post to: AGM 2022, Embroiderers’ Guild House at Bucks County Museum, Church Street, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP20 2QP   Questions should be posted before the last post on the 18th June.

Members will be welcome to submit questions on the day using the Webinar chat and after the presentation of the Trustees report.   Priority will be given to questions submitted in advance.  Unanswered questions will be collated and responded to via this website after the meeting.  The meeting will close promptly at 12 noon.


Document downloads:

Questions received:

Membership and Governance

Q:At the last AGM you said that you would review the structure and activities of our regions. What was the outcome?

A: A small team of Embroiderers’ Guild members including regional chairs and former branch chairs spent several weeks reviewing the options for regions and a report was submitted to the Trustees with an emphasis on how regions could support the Guild. During this period, several regions decided to step back from the Guild. The trustees were of the view that it would be difficult to set up replacement regions because they would be in competition with the non-Embroiderers’ Guild regions for committee members and fund-raising activities. So, the Trustees reluctantly decided that keeping a network of regions was not viable at this stage.

Q: How many EG members are there at the present time? How many of the current EG members are life members?

The Guild currently has in total just over 1550 members, around 1,000 annual members and just over 550 life members.  Our annual members have reduced by around 75% whilst life members have remained steady. Whilst the Guild is now smaller and volunteer-run its costs no longer exceed its income which is a significant step forward.  We will explain in detail our finances and how we have achieved a stable financial position for the future at the AGM

Q: How many members decided not to renew in 2021/22?

A: We do still have some members due to renew for the 21/22 year, although most of those who wish to have already done so.  Comparing the numbers we identified in last year’s report with our current membership, approximately 75% of those who were members in the previous year have either cancelled their membership or chosen to let it lapse.  Only 15% of those have asked to be added to our public mailing list.

Q: I thought trustees were only meant to be elected for a limited period, why have some overrun that time?

The Guild has gone through a significant period of upheaval and change during the last two years.  The Trustees have needed to work in a different way In order to secure the long-term future of the Guild.  They have been working as a collaborative team as well as fulfilling their formal roles in order to turn the Guild around.  Three new Trustees have been brought in during the last year but further trustees need to be found.   The current Board has worked extremely hard and have an extensive knowledge of the history of the Guild and the issues the Guild currently faces. Until we have additional Trustees with the right skills and there has been a thorough hand-over, the current trustees have agreed to continue to support the Guild as members of the Board of Trustees.

If you would like to volunteer as a Trustee, please contact us on Trustees@embroiderersguild.com giving us some details about your skills and any previous relevant experience.

Q: The Articles of Association require the Guild to have regions and branches as well as a Chair of the Board, Hon Treasurer, Hon Secretary.  What plans are there to update the Articles and will the remaining members of the Guild be entitled to agree these or not?

A: The Trustees do wish to spend some time reassessing the Articles in light of the changes the Guild has recently experienced, and to revisit and revise them where necessary.  We intend to seek guidance around this process, to ensure that any revision reflects legal requirements and provides relevant limitations of powers.

However, it should be noted that the current Articles do not require the Guild to have either branches or Regions.  The Guild’s Articles give the Trustees the power to establish branches and, regions within the British Isles, for the furtherance of the Objects.   They go on to say: the Regions shall be of such number and with such boundaries as the Board shall from time to time decide.

Following the outcome of the Regional review it was clear that with many of the previous Regional committees expressing a strong desire to become independent of the Guild, it would be impossible to maintain the previous Regional structures.  The Trustees reluctantly decided that keeping a network of regions was not viable – the Guild needed to focus on its membership as a whole, setting  no boundaries on membership or public engagement.  This decision lies entirely within the powers granted to the Board by the Articles, and it leaves the option to re-establish Regions at some point in the future, if doing so supports the furtherance of the Guild’s charitable objects.

Q: Why doesn’t the Guild have a President?

The current Board is made up of Trustees who contribute experience and skills to enable us to make strategic decisions and take actions to further the survival of the Guild and carry out its charitable aims.  A President is not expected to be a Trustee.  We felt it was important for the Guild to be on a more secure footing and see a path forward before we asked anyone to take on the position of President.  This is important for both them and us, as the President is seen as a figurehead and represents the Guild to the wider textile world.

Finance

Q: Where has our money gone? What have you done with all the money taken from the branches?

The financial accounts detail the cash and assets held by the Guild on 31st August 2020 and 31st August 2021.  We will spend more time than usual at the forthcoming AGM going through the Guild’s finances and bringing members up to date with the Guild’s current financial position from August 2021 to present day.  We will explain how much money the Guild now holds and how money has been spent since 31st August 2020.

Q: How much money was brought in from branch and regional bank accounts? 

A: £510,000 – this is the amount after all expenses had been paid and branch restricted funds were transferred back to branches.

Q: How many groups were paid start-up fees?

We have to date paid £31,783 in start-up fees of £250 to 124 branches and up to £150 to five Young Embroiderers Groups.

Q: How much money is there available to support the Collection?

There is £57,794 that has been put aside to support the Guild Collection.  This money is in a restricted fund which means that it is ringfenced and can only be spent on the Collection and no other Guild activities.  The costs of housing, maintaining and exhibiting the Collection are around £20,000 each year. The current restricted funds will support the Collection for a further three years.

Q: Who is looking after the finances now the CEO is gone?

The Guild’s finances are being looked after by two Trustees and a contract book-keeper. One of our Trustees is a chartered accountant with over 30 years financial and business experience, the other has worked in a finance team in an educational establishment for many years.  No one Trustee can make payments or sign off payments. We have started using the Xero accounting package which provides an up-to-date comprehensive overview of all financial transactions.  A great deal of time has been spent understanding the Guild finances and setting a comprehensive budget.  The Board are provided with details of income and spend against budget every month and detailed but understandable explanations are provided.  Any proposed spend is checked and then agreed by the Board with reference to the budget before any commitments are made. 

Q: Why isn’t the Guild fundraising?

The Guild started fundraising in August 2021 with the launch of its online events, Thread Talks and Talking Threads.  These events request donations for attending the events, there is a suggested minimum donation but many have donated more than the minimum which is very much appreciated.  We are able to claim gift aid on the additional donations above the minimum amount.  In addition, the Guild have signed up to the Easy Fund Raising, Amazon Smile, Paypal and Topcashback charity schemes. In the past year we have received £215.37.  An explanation of these schemes was included in a Contact newsletter.

Affiliated Stitch Groups

Q: How many affiliated stitch groups are there and is the Board intending to ask them to pay an affiliation fee in future? What are the benefits of Affiliation for a local group?

As at June 2022 we have 105 affiliated groups.  Some ISG groups have not returned an updated form to let us know if they are or aren’t.

The question of an affiliation fee, or not, depends very much on how much income can be generated from other sources.  There is no affiliation fee, nor charge for insurance, for 2021-2022.  Beyond that, it is too early to say, but we will do our best to avoid affiliation fees.

The main benefit for a local group is the free insurance which the Guild is able to offer by negotiating a “combined” policy.  This insurance not only covers meetings in person but also exhibitions held by the group.

Earlier this year, we asked ISGs to return an updated form with details of their location and meetings.  If they choose to affiliate, this information is shown on the Guild website and enables anyone looking for a group to see if there is one nearby.  It also enables us to pass on details of local groups if anyone contacts us.

Affiliated groups can submit information for inclusion in our Contact and What’s on newsletters.  The What’s on newsletter is not only circulated widely to members, but also to all affiliated ISGs and other interested readers.

We still act as a communication channel for groups who wish to get in touch with others.  As we develop future activities, we hope the affiliated ISGs will work with us to make them successful events which will benefit everyone.

It needs to be remembered that we can only offer benefits, and/or communicate with individuals who are members of the Guild.  If they aren’t, our only contact is via their ISG which is why we ask them to pass on information.

Q: How many branches affiliated in 20/21 and now in 21/22?

The number of ISGs which affiliated in 20/21 was 101.  This year we have 102.

Activities and Exhibitions

Q: Will you be at K&SS this year?

A: Yes, we will. Last year we went back to the Knitting and Stitching Shows in Alexandra Palace and Harrogate.’ Immediate Live’ had taken a year out as a result of the pandemic and we like so many others were excited and relieved to be back in 2021

We were unable to Showcase any Graduates and Scholars because we had not been able to select the best students from the end of year shows that year, but we were pleased to be able to exhibit all the Members Challenge entries for ‘Exquisite Containers’. Which was inspired by donations to The Embroiderers Guild and little seen items from the collection, such as historic and contemporary bags and containers, and needlework accoutrements

We were also able to display our three ‘Reasons to be Thankful’ panels and our newly launched Digitised complete works of ‘Embroideress’ and ‘Embroidery’

We also had an enlarged shop where enthusiasts could buy items to inspire their work

We are at the moment preparing for this year’s round of KSS. The Graduate and Scholar Showcase will be back, supported as usual by ‘Immediate Live’ (which is the new name for the organisers of the K&SS), and we will be displaying this year’s Members’ Challenge ‘ In and Out of Lockdown’ and the EG open exhibition ‘Collections’ submissions, along with more items from the Collection. The EG stand will be filled with items for the embroiderer including inspiration packs and an opportunity to subscribe to EG Membership and Embroidery Magazine

Q: Can the collection pieces be displayed around the country?

A: Over recent years, it has been our ambition to take items from the EG Collection around the country. Finding suitable venues has become increasingly difficult. There are many things to consider as we are bound to look after the precious items in our care. The space has to be compliant with Museum requirements.  In other words the venue has to be secure, dry and clean with suitable lighting and a regulated atmosphere. A few years ago, we asked members and branches to research suitable exhibition spaces near to them so that we could explore creating enough spaces around the country to be able to organise a touring exhibition.  While we did receive some suggestions, not all proved to be suitable, and the project was put on hold while further options were considered.   Then Covid happened, and planning any kind of exhibition was impossible for a while.

These days we need to closely consider costs as well as find venues and other resources to make any kind of exhibition possible.   However looking forward and with some suggestions for venues we will look again at forward planning in this regard.

We would welcome any suggestions

Q: Why didn’t the Guild do anything for the Jubilee?

A: Large scale projects such as this require time, organisation and the ability to communicate and co-ordinate stitchers across the country.  At the time we would have needed to get this going, the Guild was restructuring and the ISGs were evolving and we were not in a position to be able to handle a large-scale project.  We were very disappointed to not be able to co-ordinate members on a national basis to celebrate the Jubilee in stitch, but knew that many would join in projects within their local community.

Website

Q: What has happened to ThreadIT? Is it going to continue?

A: Yes – and no.  Work on ThreadIT was suspended for two reasons: firstly because of some technical issues that had become apparent through use of the chosen platform, and secondly because the volunteer support for addressing both those technical issues and the development of further content needed to be refocused on the commissioning and development of the new website.  As that development has proceeded, it has become clear that it will not be possible to simply transfer the ThreadIT resources into the new environment ‘as is’.  However, the new site is being designed so that lessons learned from the initial ThreadIT implementation are taken into account, and the intention is to re-use ThreadIT content where possible as part of a members’ resource library within the new Members’ Room.  This transition will take time and person hours, so – when the new website is launched- only a small proportion of those resources will be available.   Volunteers with skills in creating web content are welcome to offer their assistance with an on-going programme to populate the new resource library, and members are equally welcome to offer suggestions as to what it should contain.

Q: Where is the members’ side of the website and the online shop mentioned in last year’s AGM?  When will there be a member room again, and when will the new website be ready?

A: Work on a new website has been underway for most of this year.  Early work to identify our requirements and finding a web development company who could work with us within our allocated budget, resulted in a partnership with a company called ‘The Lines Group.’  They have been working closely with us to develop the new site, and progress is looking promising.  We have been able to demonstrate a secure login for members, together with a link through to our database which will enable members to both see and update their own records.  We are currently working on the page structures for the public side of the website and are in discussions concerning which additional facilities for members we will include prior to a formal launch. 

We are currently aiming to launch in late August, in time for the September renewals.

The on-line ‘shop’ was much lower in the list of our priorities: we are aiming to launch the new website with basic purchase functionality, allowing new members to sign-up on line, and for supporters to make donations.  Our initial enquiries about potential sales items have indicated that creating, commissioning, and enabling the processes to purchase such things is likely to be a complicated process.  It has therefore been delayed until such time as we have the resources needed to explore this further.