October Newsletter from the Chair

Coronavirus Guidance issued by The Arts Society Head Office...
The Arts Society York

Update from Helen Byard

In this time of Coronavirus, our Society continues to operate.   We are working with lecturers already booked to move their talks to a Zoom format, and we hope that members will use this technology to hear their talks.   Some members were able to get together in a group of six to watch the first lecture.  With new restrictions, even this may not be possible, and we may have to imagine that our friends are with us – a pale substitute for the social atmosphere of the York Racecourse, where members could meet and have lunch together before the talk.

We hope to be able to return to face-to-face meetings early in 2021, but, in the meantime, members who use the internet will get regular e-mails giving information about the Society and other items of interest.   We know that members do not want to sit in front of screens all day, but The Arts Society is offering monthly lectures on its YouTube channel, and some speakers have organised series of talks that are available for a small fee.   This is in addition to various museums and galleries that provide virtual tours of exhibitions and shows.

Our Study Days secretary hopes to be able to resume organising Study Days in Spring 2021.   These events customarily include travel by minibus or coach to a place of interest, leaving in the morning, and returning to York in the late afternoon or early evening.  Health restrictions may affect our arrangements in the future, and some members may choose to travel independently to the venue and meet the group there.   It is easy to assume that members know everything about their own locality, but this is not necessarily the case, and Study Days to Beverley and Hull proved fascinating – our time in Hull took in the Ferens Art Gallery as well as the Minster, while in Beverley we were guided round the Guildhall and medieval St Mary’s Church.  There was a walking tour of Sheffield city centre, followed by an afternoon at the Millennium Gallery for the touring exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci drawings.   We visited a number of Yorkshire Dales Churches to see the Art installations for the Sculpt exhibition.    Ampleforth Abbey and the joinery workshops and museum of the Mouseman comprised another Study Day.   We also travelled further afield and had guided explorations of London Churches and St Pancras Station, attended the Tate Britain Pre-Raphaelite Exhibition and visited the Foundling Hospital.

The Visits that were planned for 2020 have now been moved to 2021, and we trust we shall be able to go to Crete in early April 2021 - and perhaps visit Glasgow in September.  Visits, like Study Days, not only provide an opportunity to look at a subject or place in depth, but also allow members to get to know one another in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.   There is always a mixture of single members and couples, and no-one should be hesitant about booking a place.  For many visits, we have a lecturer accompanying the group, as well as a tour manager, and they often give evening talks to complement the Visit.   For some members, our destinations can be familiar, but the guides share information that is new to even the most well-travelled.   Recent annual programmes have comprised a European destination (e.g. Nancy) and one UK base (e.g. the Cotswolds), and every effort is made to avoid times when grandparents are likely to have commitments.

The Society has teams of professionally-trained volunteers who work on the libraries of Castle Howard, York Minster and the York Freemasons Hall to conserve the books, which are valuable to researchers and historians.  Another team of volunteers is working at All Saints Pavement, York, to make a Church Record.   When restrictions are lifted, we will hope to establish a team of volunteers to create Trails of Discovery, more information about which can be found elsewhere on this website.

Just before the March 2020 lockdown, the Society was in the process of sponsoring an Art Exhibition and Competition by students at Danesgate Community.   This Competition has been put into abeyance, and will be held as soon as all restrictions are lifted.

Helen Byard
October 2020