Kia ora koutou,
Members, it’s my pleasure to deliver the first Chair’s report for the Wellington Youth Events Society Incorporated. Three months on from the end of our first financial year, I believe our position to be strong and getting stronger.
Progress on our strategic plan
Members, at the beginning of the year we as a Board set three strategic priorities: “Govern Effectively”, “Manage Finances”, and “Keep People Safe”. I am proud to say we are achieving on all fronts.
On governance, we planned to monitor and maintain our Constitution and Protocols, and we have done so, with both a new Constitution and new Protocols ratified early this year. These changes bring us in to line with best practice, and while we accounted for potential charitable status in the writing of both documents, work will commence in the new Board term to ensure all is up to scratch. We additionally ratified a Memorandum of Understanding with Gina Dao-McLay for the organisation of [email protected] 2020. We took the time during that process to ensure that this MoU could serve as a template for future ones, simplifying future leadership processes.
On finances, we successfully took on board the books of [email protected] 2019, and are in the process of completing the tax arrangements for the financial year ending 31 March 2020 – subject to the AGM ratifying the draft financial statements. While our set-up expenses were moderate, our ongoing operating costs remain low, and we have applied for a number of grants to offset event expenses. We additionally applied for, and have in recent days received, charitable status under New Zealand law. This will make much of our operation significantly easier, and work is ongoing on optimising our operations to make the most of our new position. We also continue to advise the [email protected] 2020 Event Committee on financial matters.
On welfare, we are yet to establish the Joint Welfare Committee, as our Protocols require. This is primarily due to a lack of eligible candidates for the position of Society Welfare Manager – all eligible people must not have served in a Board or Event role for one year prior to their appointment. Work continues on finding a suitable candidate, and I expect the JWC to meet before the end of August, with its first job being the development and approval of the [email protected] 2020 welfare plans.
The impact of Covid-19
Covid-19 had a major impact on our operations. We have a duty of care for our volunteers and participants, and as such we decided (on a joint basis with the Event Producer) that [email protected] 2020 would be a livestream event, regardless of the Alert Level at the time. We made this decision and stand by it for a number of reasons:
- At the time we made the decision, the uncertainty in particular around mass gatherings meant that we could be in a position where we could announce a physical event, and begin planning, but then have to move it online, requiring most of that planning to be scrapped, and vice-versa. Choosing to stick with a livestream event means certainty for all involved.
- Regardless of the Alert Level, we believed that there would be many people, especially young people, who would be hesitant to attend a physical event.
- Most importantly, the current economic climate means that it is unlikely that we could attract enough sponsorship to make a physical event feasible.
[email protected] 2020 remains scheduled for August 23, 2020, as a livestream event. We expect attendance to be high, and the Board looks forward to assisting the Event Committee in making the event as good as possible. We are yet to consider the nature of [email protected] 2021, but if past process is anything to go by, I expect a Producer to be decided on by the end of this year, and the decision on the event’s format (physical or online) to be made soon after that.
Aside from the change to a livestream event, we supported our people all the way through the lockdown, temporarily reducing Society activity to allow a larger focus on personal wellbeing. For that reason, we are behind in some areas of our work, but expect to make up the difference over time.
The Society at present has 28 members. We do not collect demographic data in connection with our membership, but we expect to learn more about our members through the Volunteer Census in September. 32% of members are classed as previous attendees, 14% as previous volunteers, and 10% as previous attendees. 35% are classed as previous organisers – put another way, of the roughly 35 people who have been organisers of [email protected] events, 1 in 3 are Society members. We want to increase membership in all categories, and aim to do so in the coming year, by increasing and better promoting the benefits of Society membership.
Click here to read the Society’s draft financial statements for the year ending 31 March 2020.
I believe the Society to be in extremely good shape. We have shown our ability to adapt, and to thrive in challenging times. While some of our important set-up work was disrupted by Covid-19, and the pandemic’s economic impact continues to affect event finances, we are getting back on track, and remain ever hopeful for the future.
Ngā mihi nui,
Jackson Lacy – Chair, Wellington Youth Events Society Incorporated
21 June 2020