At the Avalanche Bar & Grill 275 8th Street, Courtenay

Georgia Straight Jazz Society AGM
November 30th, 2014

President’s Report to the
Annual General Meeting

Welcome back! This has been a short year only nine months since our last AGM: now we've pulled our performance, financial and administrative years more or less into the same season. It's taken us a while, but we finally got there! I guess that this could be considered the beginning of a new tradition. 2014 has been a year of new traditions: our second year at The Avalanche Bar and Grill, and once again we're on the threshold of more change as our new digs emerge from the dust of the old Av. Our move eighteen months ago was traumatic for some; in fact, we lost a whole bunch of our members from that period, together with other regulars. Even today, I meet folk who tell me that they preferred the "Old days" and have no inclination to go to The Av. For some people, I understand that their memories are attached to an unchanging image of the past to the degree they cannot see change in a positive light. Hopefully the changes underway will encourage them to return.

In contrast, I feel more positive about our current situation than at any point in the past six years. Our membership is at an all-time high; our attendance is up over all previous years; we have performers from other provinces and the US who would like to play on our stage; we've been told we have the best jazz scene in BC, and musicians have told us many times that performing in Courtenay is different because it's the one place where nearly (my comment) everyone comes to listen to the music, and they love the atmosphere of the room. Word is out - Georgia Straight Jazz Society is achieving what others dream about. We've been told by out-of-town performers that they only dream that they could sustain a jazz scene like ours - and some of those comments have come from people in communities ten times our size. Furthermore, we're continuing to achieve our principal goal: keeping jazz live! And to put icing on the cake, the Avalanche management has chosen to enhance the bar by renovating it into a modern lounge. How fortunate we are to be able to run a jazz club unencumbered by real estate worries; able to focus on the music, and continued improvement in the quality of the performance.

So my first thanks go to The Avalanche Bar management and staff for making us so welcome, and upping the standard with dinner specials and white linen. Second, I would like to personally thank the six other members of the Board for their continued dedication and service during the past year. Perhaps even more so, the Board members extend their thanks to the fourteen or so volunteers who have worked so hard to make the club a success. They are really the unsung heroes of our organization. And what is wonderful is the response we recently received to our request for more volunteers. Ann Lawrie's fear was that we would burn out our team of volunteers, but this has been allayed with a raft of additional members who have decided to get involved in response to our appeal. Perhaps this illustrates the extent of our strength and commitment. On that subject, I would like to recognize the service of Don MacKay for his work over the past three years and thank him for his contribution. Don is the only Board member not choosing to stay on for another term. Also, I'd like to particularly mention Kim Stubblefield in appreciation of the background work she performs in maintaining and updating our web page each week. For those of you who have yet to be involved as volunteers, take the time to look around you as you take in the atmosphere of the venue and the music, and reflect on the fact that without the dedication of all those volunteers, the club wouldn't function.

While handing out thanks, I would be remiss to not mention our partners in the Summer Jazz Concert Series at The Gardens on Anderton. The Therapeutic Garden Society asked us to participate in the 2014 summer season, and, after we very wisely selected perfect sunny dates, we were successful in organizing three diverse and well attended events in July and August that proved socially and financially successful for both organizations. We have already been approached about fixing dates for a 2015 series.

Above, I call us a "club" because I see us as more than a society. We have become very social; this is apparent after each Thursday concert judging by the number of people who stay behind to chat, or come early to meet and sit with friends prior to the show. Listen to the hubbub of the intermission if you need more evidence. There is an atmosphere and warmth about the club that results from familiarity around a common spirit: the love and appreciation of live jazz and an opportunity to enjoy it with like-minded friends.

And so we head into 2015 with more changes on our horizon. Not only will we enjoy a new lounge/dining room atmosphere, but we're returning to the culture of jazz every Thursday. The Avalanche has managed to shift its Comedy Night routine from every third Thursday so we can resume our practice of Jazz every week between September and June, and I encourage you to remember the new maxim that "Thursday night is jazz night". In turn I would like to see the Society take the opportunity to add more student/school-based performances whenever possible in those extra slots, as well as encourage greater participation from local musicians.

More than anything, I thank all the people who have attended jazz at the Av in the last year, who have made it so successful. Without their support it wouldn't happen. As such, I encourage all GSJS members to "Introduce a Friend to Jazz", share a drink or meal, listen to some great music and nurture our continued development.

-Thank you all for your participation, and your support of live jazz music in Comox Valley.

Malcolm Holt


Georgia Straight Jazz Society

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