It is the end of an era for the Forfar Arts Guild

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THIS week will see the final annual general meeting of the Forfar Arts Guild.

The Guild first convened as the County Music Committee in the Meffan Hall in May 1946 in the presence of Miss Dunlop who at the time was the assistant organiser for the Arts Council (Scotland).

During the meeting Miss Dunlop explained that the Arts Council’s policy was to organise a series of concerts.

After an advert ran in the local press for two consecutive weeks the first meeting of the County Music Committee was held with around 70 people in attendance.

Chairman at the time was Provost Lowson, Mrs Fox, organiser of the Arts Council was also in attendance and Mr W. D. Bernard took the minutes. It was at this meeting that the Forfar Arts Guild was born.

After the outbreak of the Second World War, the government had allocated funds for the purpose of holding concerts, dramatic performances and art exhibitions. All of these performances became hugely popular and were also held in works canteens and church halls as well as concert halls. And the Forfar Arts Guild felt that this approach would suit their needs also.

The November concert for that year had an audience of 123 people.

Since then, music-making and especially the ways of listening to music have changed dramatically. And all of this has taken its toll of attendance at live concerts as well as reduced people’s willingness to run such events.

This has made life a struggle for the Forfar Arts Guild and they have had trouble raising a committee and providing an audience for even the most prestigious performers.

For example, in March, the Scottish guitarist Simon Thacker gave an astounding performance with ground-breaking playing, truly amazing guitar technique and knowledgeable introductions to both pieces and composer. But all of this was to an audience of only 15 people.

A spokesperson for the group said: “Forfar Arts Guild has been very much aided by press exposure from Angus County Press, and is most grateful for their help, as well as all local shops, libraries and museums who have kindly exhibited posters and encouraged people to come along, but it seems we have reached the end of an era.”

The final AGM will be held tomorrow (Thursday, April 18) at 7.30 p.m. in the East and Old Church hall.

As a final farewell there will be a brief resume of the Guild’s history then a recital on clarsach, given by 13-year-old Pip de Klerk, a first year pupil at Kirriemuir’s Webster’s High School.

Pip’s desire to play the harp was sparked at a Guild concert given by feisty Scot, Rachel Hair, on clarsach, giving Pip and her family the on-going problem of sourcing (and paying for) available harps. Her playing improves constantly, and she is becoming a weel-kent player at various concerts and ‘bothy-nichts’, but the need for a better instrument is pressing, giving her mother Carol the job of applying for any grants/trusts available.

Her short recital on Thursday will leave all in no doubt that the investment is more than worth it, and she has a grand playing future ahead of her. All are welcome to the recital which should begin about 8 p.m.