Through the years...

History - 1969

Written on June 4, 2012

The year was notable for two Arts Council appointments - the first that of W N Sheat as Chairman and the second that of Donald Thompson as a member.

The new Chairman has been President of the NZ Drama Council during the Federation's early years and had himself been active in amateur operatic work. He had attended all our annual general meetings and we valued his friendship.

During the year, Blennerhassett was appointed by the Arts Council to the Steering Committee of the Arts Conference 1970.

The Federation's grant was increased to $4,000 opening up, on the one hand, new opportunities to serve its members and, on the other, greater responsibilities in terms of its own efficiency.

Although there remained a strong case for a scattered rather than a Wellington-based Executive, it was becoming increasingly apparent that one or two people, notably Thompson, were grossly overburdened while Executive members further field were making little impact either in their own areas or at secretariat. Moreover, an Executive which met half-yearly was exercising neither budgetary nor administrative control commensurate with the growing volume of Federation's business.

At an Executive meeting in Napier, Blennerhassett, attending as Chairman of the Management Committee of the Capital Assistance Fund, presented a number of suggestions for administrative reform. It was agreed first to set up a small standing committee which would meet monthly and secondly to propose in March 1970 an amendment to the rules reducing the number of Executive members and ensuring an even geographical spread.

An elaborate schedule of training schools had been drawn up following the debate at the 1968 annual general meeting. Thompson, working almost single-handed on the project as well as running "Spotlight", managed during 1969 to organise four weekend schools of real quality at Christchurch, Hamilton, Dunedin and Masterton, but the response from societies was only moderate. The crowning disappointment came in December when a particularly imaginative and practical ten 10 production school planned for January 1970 at Scots College in Wellington, had to be abandoned for lack of registrations.

The Federation has not to the time of writing (April 1971) organised another school of any kind; and, while it may well be fair to criticise the celerity with which successive Executives have declined the challenge, one can only look aghast at the failure of 71 operatic societies to recognise the possibility that their standards of presentation might be capable of improvement.

Despite this set back the year ended on a note of excitement as the Federation published the conditions of entry of its long-awaited contest for a New Zealand musical.

A specially heartening feature was an undertaking by the Palmerston North Operatic Society to mount a full-scale production of any entry which the judges might consider viable.

Executive - 1969

President Jack McSkimming (Palmerston North)
Vice Presidents Austin Brasell (Wanganui) - North Island); Murray Marshall (Christchurch- South Island)
Executive Les Goatham (Dunedin); Jack Hancock (Tokoroa); Jim McKenzie (Hamilton); Jim Saunders (Wanganui); Allan Wood (Invercargill)
Hon Secretary Ella Duddridge
Hon Treasurer Frank Terry
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