In April 2016 we hosted our first AGM and Social at the Aurora Legion. Our attendees completed written surveys and took part in group discussions on a number of themes. The following notes summarize the most pertinent outcomes of the surveys and discussions:
What should be the prime directive of the WCYR?
The WCYR provides support, encouragement, connection, and a sense of community to writers at all levels (from novice to professional).
How? By providing a creative, safe space where we can network, share, inspire, cross-pollinate, celebrate, commiserate, and learn. The WCYR provides education with respect to craft and insight into the business of writing and publishing. We also provide opportunities to market and promote members’ writing at book-fairs and other community events. We provide links to other writing organizations and paid opportunities such as blog posts.
What is your preferred meeting time?
Survey responses were all over the map with the majority choosing to stay with Sunday mornings. The second most popular choice was Sunday at 11am and the third was Saturday afternoon. Thursday and Friday evenings were the next most popular selections.
We have to book our rooms well in advance but we will be making an effort to vary the meeting times. For example, we will be running some free workshops for members on Thursday evenings, and booking some events on Saturday afternoons. We will rate the success of these bookings based on the number of people who attend.
What are we not doing that you would like to see?
Members indicated they would like to see more opportunities for feedback (e.g. “blue pencil” sessions or peer editing). We also received several requests for more contests, a WCYR anthology, youth mentorship, and more opportunities for networking (e.g. by specialty).
We are working on it. We plan to send out an RFP for a contest/anthology in the near future (please watch the newsletter for more details). We have a new board member who will be focused on youth and support for brand new writers, and we will be planning some focused networking for the fall.
What would members like to see less of?
Some members indicated they thought the meetings were too long, and that they could do without the meal. Several mentioned that they were not thrilled with the meeting space (sound issues, gymnasium-feeling).
We have opted this year to eliminate the brunch and provide coffee, tea and light snacks instead. We are looking for other venues, but so far we haven’t found another one that is as reasonable, available and central as the Newmarket Community Centre. We are happy to receive suggestions about other possibilities.
How do we attract new board members?
Members suggested using an incentive such as free membership for board members. This has been implemented.
Our AGM marked the end of our fifth season and was a unique opportunity to celebrate and look forward. We also had the best cake ever! (No butter was spared in the making of it). We found the meeting was a good chance to network and seek direct, detailed feedback from the members in attendance, as well as a chance to thank our retiring board members. We appreciate the time and contributions of all the members who attended, and look forward to implementing some great suggestions. Onward and upward!