We planned a show for 2020 and then Covid came.
And we stopped our planning and joined the whole country hiding away with fear and anxiety.
On the positive side, we all reconnected with our local areas. we relfected on what's important in our lives and we dreamt of better days filled with the unique magic of a summer Masque.
This year sees the 21st anniversary of the modern Masques and we now dream big and look to the future with hope.
Welcome to our 2020 Annual General Meeting and how exciting it is to be holding our AGM in a show year!
The years between shows are often called ‘the fallow years’ as we wait with expectation of the next show. But waiting is very far from what we do…..
So I would like to rebrand these years, and this last year in particular, as……..‘The Giving Years’.
Giving towards the Masques is what we see from so many people across our community. Giving time, giving experience, giving equipment, giving energy, giving love, giving hope in times when it all seems so hard, and of course giving donations.
All of this giving is so that we can bring the community together for a spectacular musical performance, this year especially rooted in local history and location.
Giving has been so pertinent in the last year as we have organised such incredibly fun, engaging and successful fundraising events. We have had a much loved sponsored walk and dog show, two open mic nights, a wildly successful quiz and curry night and of course several Pop up pubs that have become a real fixture for the local community.
As the summer began to fade, we remember a major demonstration of community harmony with the most fantastic Party in the Park event, organised and executed for joint benefit with this very village hall and it’s organising committee.
I’m not one to enjoy sharing money away from the Masques, however this was a truly pan-community event and perhaps a new benchmark for the power of corralling a wider population for community involvement; an example we will take with relish for the upcoming show.
Outside the headline fundraising events, with all those giving volunteers and organisers, there is another less glamorous type of giving. That is, the giving of laborious hours managing spreadsheets, organising meetings, ensuring promotion of events and our brand, and mainly wading through endless pages of soul destroying grant and funding applications.
For all the giving, we give back such sincere and heartfelt thanks. It is an often used phrase that there are too many people to thank individually, but in our case that is actually completely true! So simply, thank you one and all.
In closing, I look forwards.
Our finances are strong and whilst there are inevitably some challenges still to come, I have no doubt more giving will come to meet these challenges. It seems we are a community of giving and thanks be to that.
So as we all drown in the never ending floods of rain, we can now turn our thoughts towards warmer summer days and one more type of giving………
Giving the community that supports it a stonkingly good, locally relevant, fun, enlightening and spectacular musical theatre extravaganza right here in the middle of Boxford!
It’s showtime! Long live The Masques!
Trustee and Chairman of The Organising Committee
Boxford Masques AGM 5th March 2020
The fallow year. You can feel it. That year when the glories of a show summer fade into fond memory, a collective sigh of relief is let out at another herculean effort coming together and audiences, cast and crew have fully returned to their daily lives.
But spectres lurk in the back of our minds….what about the next show, what did we learn from the last one, can we possibly raise the money again?? And so the past year has seen all our energies focus onto fundraising and events to generate publicity and support.
Cast your minds back to early in the year and, out of the realization that we must continue to innovate with the events we put on in order to keep interest, our first open Mic was born! 17 local acts came and performed to an excited audience at Boxford Village hall. With the support of a number of Ace space regulars, the performance quality was very high. A few Masques regulars were even persuaded to display their unbounded talents, with poetry, music and comedy all featuring.
In fact, getting the microphone off Freddie Locke at the end of the night proving harder than expected! Another great Masques event was well and truly delivered and the fundraising had begun in earnest with many happy and positive comments on the evening.
As spring became summer, it was time to accelerate fundraising with our second ever Boxford Beer and Music Festival. Moving the date to early June to avoid a myriad of other events and the school holidays proved a good choice. Except the early summer weather that we all remember was boiling hot and humid, decided to miss a week! And thus we were cool, cloudy and drizzly.
Of course it takes a lot more than that to dampen the famous Masques spirit! Another incredible organizing effort was in evidence and this year we utilized all the many learnings from the previous Beer Festival to make it bigger, better and more smoothly organized. 2 stages no less and a brilliant arena appeared at the Boxford rec. Hundreds of locals and many from far afield came and ate, drank and sang their day away. Sincere thanks must go to to all the bands, The Boxford Boars, particularly James and Andrew, the Village Hall committee and all the many local people who supported us. In the end, most importantly, we had raised an enormous amount of money but the over riding memory was that of a real community effort and coming together from so many different groups in and around Boxford to enjoy a day of fun together in the name of the Boxford Masques. That is something to really treasure.
Summer holidays came and went and soon it was time for an old favourite; the Barn Dance. Being the Masques, of course it couldn’t just be any old barn dance…it had to be a Halloween Barn Dance! And thus the village hall was duly converted into a cross between The London Dungeon and Liberace’s palace as another enthusiastic crowd doh si doh’d the night away to a selection of thumping tunes. Only 3 children needed medical attention after witnessing some of the amazing Halloween fancy dress costumes and make up!
In the meantime whilst all the fun and fundraising has been going on, our creative geniuses have been plotting our next Masque. The lovely Geraldine has been squirrelling away on a new play; this one based upon the rare Roman mosaic of Bellerophon recently discovered in the hills of Boxford. Our director Ade has been licking his lips at the prospect of how to bring such an incredible local story to life with the power, passion and performance we are known for. Whilst our current funds are tight for putting on a show, we know the creativity in our ranks will rise to the challenge, even where it may mean cutting our cloth a little differently from the past. And there is much fundraising to come with the opening of our first ever Pop Up Pub, another open mic night and a children’s sponsored walk and dog show all on the horizon!
So as we near the end of another fantastic year of fundraising we can reflect that the Masques spirit is alive and well. The efforts of the committee are legendary, to innovate with their thinking, to create new or traditional events people want to come to and to execute those events with such professionalism, efficiency and energy.
As the fallow year fades, we will soon enter a show year, fully re-energised to continue the story of mischief, mayhem and magic which characterizes our beloved Masques.
Long live The Boxford Masques!
Dear friends, members, supporters and all Masqueteers!
Welcome to our Annual General meeting and the first since our wonderful show last summer: All At Sea!
One year ago, we had just taken the momentous decision to postpone our show to continue fundraising. There was no warm summer glow after a show to reflect on. This year, I am so proud to feel that warm glow of having staged a magnificent outdoor production for over 1,000 paying customers!
The past year has been essentially characterised by what I would call ‘beating the odds’.
Our fundraising certainly beat all the odds! With the herculean efforts of a dedicated and innovative organising committee we went into this year’s shows with a healthy fundraised total of £30,000. What an amazing effort! This reminds us that the love, esteem and high regard in the community for what we do, is as strong as ever. Yet, without the tireless efforts of our committee in chasing grant applications, creating fun participative community events and also just getting stuff done, we would be nowhere. My sincerest thanks for your commitment, perseverance and incredible power as a team during the past year.
We also beat the council in 2017! With just 10 days to curtain up and at a time we could well do without any distractions, the council decided that we needed a full children’s performance license. This meant we needed each of the 22 strong children’s cast to produce a signed parental permission form to be in our play, with a copy of each child’s passport. Furthermore, we needed 2 licensed chaperones per performance whose DBS checks could be certified as less than 3 years old. Thanks to an incredible community effort and after many intense hours of work from a number of our supporters, we made it and duly received our children’s license from our beloved council. I salute them for their correctness.
In the increasingly important digital world we also beat all of our previous records for engagement and interaction. Our website had over 4,000 unique visitors in the weeks leading up to our show. In our social media, thousands were engaged with our videos, pictures and informational posts. The latter would become critical near to showtime, as we shall see.
An eager cast, crew and gang of volunteers numbering more than 100, beat the challenges of a complex and massive production to stage one of our most incredible shows yet. The plaudits from the audience still ring in our ears and we will do well to remember them as the memory fades in coming months.
I guess the one thing you could say we failed to beat this year was the weather. Expectations of a warm, sunny glow at Welford soon gave way to initially grey skies and drizzle; then soon to torrential rain, muddy shoes and soggy bottoms!
But…..since we are Boxford Masques… we are never truly beaten. And so the ingenious idea of transporting a massive outdoor production, performers, musicians and staging into a small local church, quite unprepared for large scale musical theatre, became reality. And wasn’t the atmosphere special!
Yes, we began to realise there were very unfortunate compromises on sound quality, performance delivery and well, just space and for that I am eternally sorry. But, in the main, our audience was with us, willing us on and enjoying the very different experience.
We will learn from our trials and we will continue to beat the odds, its’ what we do and what our community expects from us. Our community, our cast & crew and our audience may have been sorely tested this year but they all say we put on a wonderful show.
The spirit of the Masques has shone through in all we have done in the past year. The strength, the commitment and the perseverance of all involved with creating life-affirming community musical theatre remains as strong as ever.
As Oscar Wilde said:
Theatre is the most immediate way a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.
You all embody that. Bring on the next show in 2019!
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