Chair at AGM: Writing now firmly on the map

Posted Thursday 2nd June, 2011

Tasmanian Writers’ Centre
Committee of Management
30 May 2020

The achievements of the Writers’ Centre have been many and gratifying in the year since our 2010 AGM, and whilst I don’t intend to steal Chris’ thunder by enumerating these achievements, I would like to say that the year, although busy and at times seemingly overfull – leaving some staff, committee and volunteers wondering at times when they would find time to eat or sleep, much less pay proper attention to their personal lives – has been characterised by increasing efficiency, by optimism and, more importantly, by joy, as the Centre has fulfilled its functions well and served the readers and writers of Tasmania and beyond with great grace and vigour – expanding its membership, its activities and areas of service to writers and also stepping back in the festival business! From France to Freycinet and the Shakespeare Festival forum both were triumphs for the TWC, and readers and writers, replete from the literary feasts offered and consumed at these two events, are clamouring for more of same.

The management committee’s role is to be responsible for the good governance of the organization, and this last year has seen incremental leaps in the defining, refining and fulfilment of our roles and processes, as we took on board the effects and ramifications on funding, administrative and operational aspects of the TWC following the establishment of the newly constituted federal body Writing Australia. Chairing this new organization has taken much of Chris’ time, and it is a tribute to her hard work, vision and dedication, that she has managed to add the extra work of Writing Australia to her role as Director of TWC, almost without skipping a beat. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the skill, tenacity and inclusiveness with which she fulfils her role as director.

Our committee this last year has constituted Chair, Terry Whitebeach, Deputy Chair, Ralph Wessman, Treasurer, Pip Dennis, and committee members, Rosie Dub, Ben Walter, Carolyn Fisher, Karen Knight Bev Jefferson and Lyn Reeves.

We have continued to refine our governance procedures and to educate ourselves in all aspects of good governance (The Book of the Board and similar tomes being my late night reading on more occasions than I might care to admit) and an incremental leap in the way we define our role and conduct our meetings was assisted by excellent in-service training with Greg Hudson. Our meetings have become brief, focussed and streamlined, no longer time-consuming rambles through the minutes or endless minutiae; consequently, we now have time to celebrate successes, brainstorm creatively and share ideas and possibilities without the Chair having to glance anxiously at the clock every few minutes.

Our committee is losing three of its valued members to other commitments – Ralph Wessman, with his quiet but very effective presence and his knowledge and experience of publishing and service to writers, Ben Walter, with his extensive knowledge of booksellers’ concerns and perspectives and his commitment to the Centre being more inclusive of young writers, and Bev Jefferson with her vast experience of governance issues and the administration of community organizations and her energy and commitment to effective governance of the Centre. These people have made a great contribution and we are sorry to see them go, but we wish them well in their personal and professional ventures.

We also appreciate Carolyn Fisher’s dedication in hanging in there by phone nearly every meeting, from the Northwest coast, reminding us to think regionally: we hope to include greater regional representation on the committee this year, along with representation from legal, marketing and other professions and areas relevant to good governance and to increasing and extending our activities and our services to readers and writers in Tasmania.

A particularly important milestone for the Centre in 2010 was that for the first time in the Centre’s history, we received triennial funding from our major funding body, Arts Tasmania. This guarantees the stability of the Centre’s operations up to the end of 2013, allowing us to plan and build longer-term partnerships, and allowing our Director to shift focus from the major task of preparing a funding application every year, onto activities for our members and the community. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it means that through the Centre’s strategic work in advocating for literature over the last few years, writing is now firmly on the map in the arts landscape of Tasmania. The Tasmanian Writers’ Centre is now recognised alongside major arts bodies including Tasdance, Tasmanian Regional Arts, CAST, Terrapin Puppet Theatre, the Australian Script Centre, and IHOS Opera.

I would like to recognize the achievements of our Committee members and staff who have worked on behalf of writers and readers this year. Thank you to Ralph Wessman, Pip Dennis, Bev Jefferson, Lyn Reeves, Rosie Dub, Ben Walter, Carolyn Fisher, Karen Knight and Lyn Reeves, to our Director Chris Gallagher, and her staff, Marion Stoneman, Esther Ottaway, Helene Thomas and Jo Collins; and to Gill Paxton, Hilary Dawkins, Jane Winter and the many other volunteers who continue to give their time to the TWC’s smooth running and to its special events.

It’s a privilege to work for writers, who have as important a role to play in today’s world as they ever have had: and as Chair of the Committee of Management of the TWC I should like to say it gives me great pleasure to participate in the refining and effecting of our governance processes, so the work of supporting and celebrating Tasmanian writing may continue effectively.

Dr Terry Whitebeach

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