Chairman’s report 2017

Our first official period covered the year ending 30th November 2016, though I have brought this up to date at the time of writing. One of our first tasks was to get the Trust officially recognised by OSCR as this seal of approval is crucial when applying for funds. This was duly approved, with our OSCR Scottish Charity Registration number allocated.

We also welcomed two new Trustees in addition to the original seven. Margot Manson, a Glasgow solicitor, and Hans Waltl, a chartered accountant and engineer from the Borders. So we have a good, broad spectrum of skills. We are now considering inviting some extra Trustees to spread the work load.

In the first few months, the Trustees spent much time investigating the best ways to raise the funding required to achieve our objectives. In order to do this, we had to decide what our objectives actually are, i.e. the direction we want to take with The Steading, and how to deal with the substantial collection of Tim’s sculpture and other works. Several scenarios were discussed and the current one (though nothing is set in stone) was given a preliminary capital costing by a quantity surveyor. We are looking to raise in the region of £3-4 million over a timescale of 4-5 years.

One issue much discussed was whether to prepare our own business plan and fundraising package - and therefore to approach finding bodies and charitable trusts ourselves - or whether to use the services of professional charity fund raisers. To this end, discussions and meetings were held with a number of different fundraisers, from Northumberland, Dundee, Cumbria and Edinburgh, and we have learned a lot from talking to them - each had something different to offer us while at the same time identifying some common challenges. We also drew up preliminary figures for an operating budget for running The Steading in the longer term. Our aim is to end up with The Steading being self-supporting without having to rely on a constant, ongoing stream of fundraising. All this has been a useful learning curve.

As I write, we have collectively come to realise that, given the complexity of some of these applications, the necessity to understand the right ‘language’, the importance of getting it right first time, not to mention the existing commitments of the Trustees, we really need some outside, impartial help in order to raise such a sum in such a comparatively short time.

In order to do this, the Trust needs to raise initial seed capital to meet the costs of fundraising. This will include a feasibility study to identify and mitigate any possible barriers to
success, followed by the preparation of a suitable business plan before preparing the full fundraising package. We also need to identify likely sources of funds, either from the public sector (e.g. the Heritage Lottery fund) or from private charitable trusts.

So in August, a fundraising event was held in Blainslie, at which invited supporters were entertained to a tour of The Steading followed by a Russian-themed lunch organised by Julia Atlas, and a lively afternoon concert arranged by
 Lev Atlas. This was successful, not only in raising a useful amount of funds on the day, but also in enhancing the profile of the Trust and attracting subscriptions from patrons and friends.

Following our first AGM, Maggy Stead has put a carefully curated selection of Tim’s sculptures up for sale to help to raise enough funds to get us started. This is a fabulous opportunity to acquire a piece of genuine Stead work.

Follow this link to view the artworks available.

We also prepared a promotional leaflet inviting ongoing support for the Trust. This is being distributed and we now have a growing body of Friends and Patrons who have donated generously. The Trust promotes its work through the creation of a website - www.timsteadtrust.org and a Facebook page.

Because Tim Stead died 17 years ago, there is an awareness gap which we need to address: although Tim’s legacy lives on through the huge influence he has had on the furniture makers and sculptors who followed him, many people don’t know about the man himself, nor his substantial body of work. Like Charles Rennie Mackintosh, in the years after his death, Stead is influential but in danger of being forgotten. And so, to increase the recognition of Tim’s work, the Trust took part in the Creative Coathanger Event in Galashiels in the autumn of 2016, eliciting a really positive response from many locals, both new to his work and those who had heard of him but didn’t know much about him. The Steading was also featured on BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Out of Doors’ programme in June 2016.

A valuable initiative from Fiona Colton of Live Borders has produced for us an easily transportable
‘pop-up’ travelling exhibition which has now been seen by over 40,000 people throughout Scotland through the East of Scotland Museums Partnership programme. Other locations to exhibit major works of Tim Stead are actively being sought by the Trustees, including the Scottish Parliament Building (with whom we have had initial discussions), National Museums of Scotland, and the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, with whom Tim had a strong relationship.

And so, with a major fundraising push about to enter its first stage, and a series of exhibitions taking place, we end the first phase of our project on an optimistic note.

Nichola Fletcher, MBE.
Chairman, Tim Stead Trust