When the south west team had guardianship of the Grapevine in 2000 and 2001, two things became clear:
It had been Frances Fawkes who had got the south west team together and it was now Frances who was fielding telephone calls on any manner of subjects connected with the business of our network. Although she enjoyed receiving these calls, she did feel that she could not adequately answer all of them.
Frances put forward the idea of forming a group of people of experience, expertise and/or enthusiasm who would be able to take an overview of the network, pursue people's questions and possibly provide other services in the absence of the frenzy of magazine production.
The rest of the team agreed that this was an idea whose time had certainly come if indeed it was not positively overdue. The network by this time was too big for everyone to know everyone else and some new structure was seen to be essential. This was a wish to enhance the network that has nourished us, and spread the load amongst more people. The 'tall order' was to build a structure offering protection to those providing services whilst at the same time retaining the network's ethos. The idea was aired in Grapevine and at the Easter Gathering. Some ways forward were rejected since too many of the network were against them, for example, becoming a charity.
Eventually, the network formed a company limited by guarantee, The Circle Dance Friends Company Limited. It is a privilege to be allowed to have one's liabilities limited so there is an associated cost which is complying with company law or being subject to, in some cases, quite severe penalties.
The main legal documents underlying any company are the Memorandum of Association and the Articles of Association (known more colloquially as the Mem and Arts). These were constructed by Frances Fawkes, Judith Thompson, Fiona Parr and Raymond Thompson over some weeks by modifying model examples from the Charity Commission and actual examples from other companies.
Being legal documents, they are somewhat dry but we tried as far as possible to build a structure that would be acceptable to the network without the company part taking over. One legal requirement is to hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM) and to optimise attendance and to avoid additional expense, it was decided to hold it at the Easter Gathering.
Those steering the company are the directors. At first sight, this might seem to be the formation of a clique, which the network would naturally abhor. However, previously the smaller Grapevine team represented it. This larger group is clearly more representative than that, and as you will see, its meetings are open to all. It is expected that each Director will sound out the views of others in the network on current matters of interest.
Additionally, the rules for the retirement of Directors mean that no body can hang around forever!