Arts Society – Chichester Evening group expanding its horizons

The new Arts Society – Chichester Evening group is expanding its horizons as it continues to rise to the challenge of our Covid times.

Wednesday, 13th January 2021, 10:00 am
David Betts
David Betts

Now in its second year, the group is feeling positive for the future – despite the pandemic which inevitably meant a number of its lectures were either cancelled or postponed.

They have switched to Zoom instead and are keen to rebuild numbers.

The basic promise is a varied, fascinating and illustrated selection of lectures given by entertaining and knowledgeable professional speakers who are all Arts Society accredited lecturers.

But since the pandemic, the group has also offered online wine-tastings and is thinking about offering online quizzes – all part of responding to the ongoing difficulties of physically getting together.

Society spokesman David Betts said: “Because of these unprecedented times, we have lost members.

“For a lot of our members, the society is about actually meeting people. It’s the social contact at a lecture and the fact that you can ask questions, and they find that quite motivational.”

Without that, membership has dipped a little.

“We had about 110 members and were building and now we are back to about 70 which is quite difficult for us financially.

“We have managed to have our lectures on Zoom which is good, but not everybody has got Zoom or is Zoom friendly or, as I say, they just want the social contact. Watching TV so to speak is not what they are there for.

“But we have had a few new members and we are also working very hard on new ideas. We even had a lecture about wine. They had some wine available for testing. People learnt about the wine. But also did our own with Majestic. We selected three wines and we publicised it to our members and a lot of them bought the wines. Before the lecture we had our own wine-tasting and a chap from Majestic then told us about the wines. We are thinking of doing another one.

“What we are also working towards, as part of our current thinking, is looking at doing some quizzes.

“We can set up small Zoom groups and talk about various subjects. We are also sharing museum websites. We are also looking at setting up our own lectures (in addition to the Arts Society accredited lecturers). It is about stimulating us to work together and get people talking together, about people developing an interest in the arts and people sharing their own interests.”

David hopes that some of these innovations will continue once things get back to normal: “We are wanting to work hard at building up our membership by offering stimulating things, by actually inquiring and researching into the lectures so that it is not just one hour, so that it is almost a chat room.”

It’s all about realising the huge value of the arts in our lives and how different the arts can make us feel, David said.

Membership details from [email protected]