AGM 2014 – Chairman’s Report

June 11th, 2014

By Caroline Underwood

As usual, I’m going to recap a little on the events of the last twelve months and talk a bit about some of the highlights.  Neil is then going to give his last speech as Executive Director with some general thoughts about MMD over the last five years and where we’re at now.

I’m delighted to say that MMD is growing in member numbers all the time with 366 currently signed up to the organisation.  What is particularly encouraging is that member retention is improving every year.  We have almost 2,500 followers on Twitter and Facebook is now at almost 650 likes on our main page.  It’s great to see new members joining for specific opportunities.  Thirteen new writers joined MMD as a result of The S&S Award.

We are currently holding our breath to see if we have been awarded Arts Council funding for the next three year period starting in 2015.  The Arts Council awarded Catalyst Funding jointly to MMD, MTN and Perfect Pitch this time last year.  This is given to enable us to build a fundraising infrastructure between the three organisations.  The first evidence of this will be a fundraising event in the autumn this year aimed at those with very deep pockets!  It is still being finalised but it will take the form of a dinner event.  Our thanks go to the Arts Council and to James Hadley there for all their continuing support.

Last year saw three more resident composer placements under the Cameron Mackintosh Composer Resident Scheme.  Our congratulations go to Kieran Buckeridge at the Bristol Old Vic, Greg Harradine at Soho Theatre and Paul Herbert at the Watermill.  Our huge thanks go to the Cameron Mackintosh Foundation.  We are now working on creating a similar opportunity for bookwriters as we appreciate that opportunities are more limited in this area.

This year’s S&S Award is now well underway with our first round judges going through their musicals at the moment.  Last year’s winner FOREST BOY by Claire McKenzie and Scott Gilmour is currently going through a dramaturgy process with Laurie Sansom at the National Theatre of Scotland before the week’s development in the autumn and the industry showcase after that.  There was a dedicated Gala for the Award in November at the St James Theatre which we hope will become an annual event.  It included an extract from the winning show and songs from the runners-up with the Award presented by Don Black.  This year’s Gala will take place on 16 November, again at the St James Theatre.  Huge thanks to Warner Brown and the Estates of Sidney and Sylvia Brown and also to The Noël Coward Foundation who supported the Award last year and is doing the same this year.

We have just seen another hugely successful Stiles and Drewe Song Prize a few weeks ago.  It was a sell-out occasion with judges including Andrew Lippa.  Tamar Broadbent was this year’s well-deserved winner.  Our thanks, as always, to George Stiles and Anthony Drewe for their sponsorship of and support for the Prize.

March saw the second MTN/MMD conference, this time at the Almeida.  I was unable to be there but I hear from many people that it was a great success with some very notable speakers.  The Lionel Bart Masterclasses, Writers’ Lab and BML continue to go from strength to strength.  Our thanks to The Lionel Bart Foundation and The Peter Fineman Foundation for their support of the first two.

So, some more thank-yous.  First, and as always, to the MMD Board for all their help over the last twelve months, in particular to Roger Fairhead on the accounts side of things.  I also want to thank, on behalf of the Board, Martin Jackson and Sarah Crook in the MMD office who work incredibly hard for MMD and its writers.  Our thanks also to Caroline Routh at MTN who is a great partner and wonderful support.

Now…to Neil Marcus who is leaving us this week after five years as Executive Director.  I don’t want to believe it but I know that it’s true.  What can I say about Neil?  He has been the most incredible Executive Director of MMD.  He has taken the organisation to a new level in every sense.  His passion for new writing, particularly new British writing, shines through everything he does.  He has done the most fantastic job and he is going to be an incredibly hard act to follow.  On top of all that, he has been an absolute pleasure to work with.  We thank him a million times over for everything he has done and we will miss him enormously.  We wish him every success with his new venture The Stable and we look forward to working with him in his producing capacity.

So that you know, we are putting an interim person in place over the next four months whilst we look for Neil’s successor.  We can’t start to look for Neil’s replacement until we know about the Arts Council funding but we hope to have that person in situ well before the end of the year.

So…for the last time at MMD…over to Neil…