I’ve just added a page to this site with our choir’s constitution on it. We are preparing for our Annual General Meeting and the committee wanted everyone to have a chance to read through the document that sets out how we work. We will do printed copies too for people who prefer reading paper or don’t have internet access.
At the committee meeting on Wednesday we started thinking about how to make sure our members know who the committee members are, what they do and why we work this way. In January 2012 we changed from a loose voluntary group with an unpaid leader and a fairly lax attitude to collecting subs to a more organised outfit with elected officers and a constitution. This was primarily so that I could become a paid musical director – until summer 2011 I squeezed in being voluntary MD around a full-time job in school management.
The constitution sets out our core values – about who choir is for, what it stands for, how we try to make it accessible and affordable. It is as simple as we could make it while covering the essential points.
The committee is nine choir members, three of them with specific roles, who discuss and make decisions about the running of choir. I am part of the committee but I don’t have voting rights – they do always ask me what I think and listen to the answers, though.
I like the arrangement because the choir has grown very organically and has always been a friendly bunch, even if many of us only have choir in common. We like talking about things but prefer to spend rehearsals singing. Having a committee which meets once a term – and any choir member can come along – gives us a time to discuss organisational matters. I like having a regular forum which takes place even if there are no pressing issues. If something does occur which is potentially divisive or needs sorting out, we have a structure within which to deal with it and so we don’t need to invent something in a panic.
I also like having a supportive group managing the choir. Rehearsals are short and busy and although I try and say hello to everyone I don’t always manage that, never mind listening to their suggestions and points of view. With a committee we hope to listen to nine times as many members and have a real sense of what people are feeling.
I think the committee model also keeps any megalomaniac tendencies of mine in check. It reminds us that no single person is more important than the choir. I may be the leader but I don’t make any noise on my own. A choir is a living organism made up of the combined energy of many people – and it will change and grow with those individuals. So to me it seems right that they are represented in the decisions that shape the organisation.