This is my first ‘Chatter’ since assuming the Chair’s role at the AGM in March. Since then, much has happened, not least your remarkable response to the real challenge of coping with the huge influx of enquiries from the Central Council (CC) Ring for the King initiative.
The CC put together a very successful campaign to encourage new and returning ringers to either start ringing bells or to rejoin the fold. The campaign was so successful that the response quickly outstripped the capacity of the CC to handle the volume of enquiries.
ART was faced with a simple decision; do we step in and help the CC to handle the enquiries or hold back. Of course, we stepped in and the ART admin team, supported by a few extra volunteers responded to the task of contacting ART Members and Associations and Guilds trying to locate the best places to direct enquiries. Over the period leading up to the Coronation we replied to around 2500 enquiries with an average response time of around 2.5 days. This meant that within two and a half days from their initial enquiry the new or returning ringer had been placed with a teacher or a representative of the Association or Guild local to them.
However, the real task was and is to train and keep as many of those recruited as possible. This task fell to you and other ringers across the land and goes on hopefully far into the future. Your response and that of the whole ringing community was, and remains, nothing short of stunning. It was only at the very end of the surge that we started to receive some feedback along the lines of: ‘We are full. We cannot take anymore learners.’ Thankfully the peak had passed and after the Coronation weekend we were able to declare the process, at least so far as the use of the ART Helpdesk is concerned, closed.
The 2024 ART Conference
The ART 2023 conference is finished. Long live the conference! As is the way of things we start planning the next one shortly after the current one finishes. This is very true of annual conferences as venues need to be considered and booked but the type of venue depends very much on the type of conference.
In 2023 we moved to a more tower-based conference and I for one very much enjoyed the chance to ring at towers I hadn’t rung in before or not for a while anyway. We have considered the feedback we received, and opinions are varied, some think we should revert to the previous style of predominantly class-based sessions whilst others say let’s keep some of the tower sessions as it is about ringing, isn’t it?
I would welcome your thoughts on this, to keep the good bits of the extremes should we plan for a hybrid conference including elements of both?
As you may know we are planning system developments to build on what we have in the websites and SmART Ringer. This type of activity is always time-consuming and head scratching! To share the burden of system support we offer to you, we are keen to recruit some additional volunteers to provide back-office support for some of our systems. Right now, we are interested in finding a small team of volunteers with experience of MOODLE, the platform for our online learning courses. We have two MOODLE instances, a development and a delivery version. We are seeking volunteers to support the courses teams writing new courses or updating older ones. In particular, we are seeking to make sure that our courses utilise the full range of learning styles and tools provided by MOODLE and that the courses are all as advanced in their style and content as possible.
If anyone has such experience and would welcome the opportunity to join or even lead that small team, then I would be very pleased to hear from you.
Universities Offering – another fantastic offer from ART
If you know someone going up to university this year or returning for another year, please make them aware that ART will again be offering a Recruitment Package in 2023-4, comprising one or more of:
- Financial help with the cost of hiring a mobile belfry, mini-ring or Wombel for use at your Freshers’ Fair, up to a total of £250.
- Up to 25 free Learning the Ropes logbooks for use with your new recruits.
- A free ART Teacher Training Module (either for teaching bell handling, foundation skills or elementary change ringing) for six of your members.
Through funding gratefully received from AbelSim we can fund a limited number of universities, so if you’re interested in finding out more about this offer, please contact us at email@example.com to express your interest. We will send out further information on how to apply in July 2023.
We appreciate that the people fulfilling the roles in your society may well change over the summer, so please can you ensure that you keep us updated with the best email address to contact your society if this is changing.
One of the things we are trying to do this year is to reduce the administrative burden so that our admin team can continue to give you a high-quality service. The new website at bellringing.org and the Son of Smart Ringer project are part of this, but we are also looking at our processes.
We are currently reviewing how we issue Learning the Ropes certificates in the light of the amount of additional admin time they consume, particularly with frequent modifications and re-issuing. We are planning to automate their production as part of SoSR, which will both reduce admin time and allow ringers to control what’s on their certificates, but in the meantime look out for changes in the issuing process, including changes to the certificates themselves.
The first (almost) 100 days
To take over as Chair of any organisation is a daunting prospect and without the dedication and support of the Management Committee and the Trustees of ART would have been very hard. I have had that support from all people in ART I have met thus far. In particular, the help in understanding and navigating the strong currents and whirlpools, not to say the quick sands of ART, I have received from the retiring Chair has been greatly appreciated, I can only hope that at the end of my tenure as Chair a small fraction of the goodwill shown to Lesley can rub off on me.