Meeting to fill WoolOn seats

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For the second time in its history, insufficient nominations were received to fill vacancies on the WoolOn Creative Fashion Society’s governance committee and a special general meeting is to be arranged to elect new members.

Although about 50 people attended the society’s annual meeting on January 30 at the Alexandra Community House, only three nominations were received to fill six of the seven committee vacancies.

Five of the six committee members, including chairwoman Victoria Ravenscroft, indicated they would step down or were considering it, because of the workload or personal circumstances.

Existing committee member Mary Hinsen said she wanted to remain on the committee and had been nominated.

Stan Randle, of Earnscleugh, and Tania Irons, of Becks, were nominated from the floor, while a third person expressed interest in being secretary.

However, as no further nominations were tabled for office bearers: chairperson; deputy chairperson; secretary; and financial officer, under the society’s governance constitution no vote could be held and Ms Ravenscroft closed the meeting.

Under the constitution the present committee remained in place until the special meeting was held.

The deputy chairperson role had been vacant since the last meeting in November 2018 but the duties were shared among the committee members.

“It is most frustrating,” Ms Ravenscroft said.

“The committee has done a lot of hard work and now we are back to square one.”

Several audience members were concerned the society’s financial records had not been released. However, the records had not been signed off as some committee members had been away during the summer break.They were read out at the meeting and the committee asked for questions from the floor.

Other people were concerned about the move to hold WoolOn at Highland Park in Cromwell.

Ms Ravenscroft said that decision was made because there were no suitable venues in Alexandra large enough to hold the rapidly growing showcase.

In addition, each time a new venue was used, a new health and safety plan was required, costing about $4500, in addition to the costs of running the event.

However, by paying Highland Park $27,000 over two years, their management team took care of all the organisational details including wait staff, seating plans, catering, parking, health and safety plans, and cleaning up afterwards.

There were grumbles about the need to become a society member and pay a subscription of $25 annually to vote or sit on the committee, which was something many people had not been aware of and some thought unnecessary.

The committee had been busy, including working to formalise their relationship with Central Stories Museum.

Ms Hinsen was developing an education programme for school students and had already had two schools, a group of crafters and an American designer prepared to help.

Central Otago District Council had approved a $10,000 grant plus non-financial support for WoolOn.

They also created a new award, Mata-Au, named after the Clutha River, for the designer of the garment judged to best to reflect New Zealand/Aotearoa’s cultural heritage.

Central Otago District Mayor Tim Cadogan, who had to leave the meeting early for another appointment, said the future of the event “looked bleak at present”.

He said as there were only three people prepared to put their hands up to sit on the committee at the annual meeting, that suggested there was not sufficient support for the event to continue.

“I was disappointed I had to leave the meeting and left stating a clear hope those who remained would work together to find a way forward for WoolOn,” Mr Cadogan said.