To CMA members and friends,
This year the CMA celebrates 32 years as the principal organisation championing the extraordinary development of community media in the UK. Over these decades of rapid change the CMA has come into its own when advocating and lobbying for the best interests of the community end of the media spectrum. The work we did that led to the creation of licensed community radio in the 2003 Communications Act is a good example of this. With over 260 stations now on air or preparing to launch in our first ten years we have exceeded expectation. The 2014 Radio Academy Nations & Regions awards gave over 50% of the awards to community broadcasters. This proves that volunteer-based radio that engages people, communities and audiences has truly arrived in a landscape previously and exclusively occupied by the BBC and commercial networks.
Whilst the CMA can take some of the credit in helping create the environment for community media to flourish I believe we have also missed some opportunities to offer full leadership to all areas of growth in our sector. The CMA has, of course, not been immune from the funding challenges that beset most of us delivering community media. Sometimes the reality of sustaining the CMA has resulted in the need to pursue project delivery which can prove distracting on delivering our core purposes of representation and advocacy. Last year the CMA embarked on a process of change that will produce an organisation fit to lead and meet the challenges of our times.
Our first priority has been to get our own house in order. I am very grateful to our members who have so positively responded to the new invoicing system and Cathy Brooks for her professional leadership as our finance manager. In this we have also been well served by our new credit controller Adrian Hill who joined us in January. The restructuring of the CMA meant we had to cut our Arts Coordination role. Tamar Millen had been central to developing community media in the arts. As I travel round the country visiting our members I have often heard how Tamar’s work has made a difference. We wish her well in the hopes that our paths will cross again in the future.
The CMA currently has only one full-time employee. Bill Best is doing an extraordinary job in making sure the CMA delivers on its commitments and I would like to publically thank him for his tireless work and dedication. His energy is the bridge that will take us from the past to a future of an organisation with increased capacity. Clearly the current situation is transitionary and is untenable in the long run. We are at the midpoint of the process of change. We need to get resources up at the heart of the CMA to give Bill some much needed support. As we manage the transition I am very pleased to let you know that our governing Council has stepped up to the mark with members taking a share of operational delivery. This helps ensure we continue to represent the best interests of members whilst we restructure.
As the CMA remerges with a strategy in place that ensures it is adequately resourced to deliver on our core objectives we are also focused on the funding needs of the sector we represent. The CMA has embarked on a journey that places it at the centre of developing credible regional and national funding strategies. On top of managing the process of change within the CMA, how we reverse the current trend of failing sector sustainability is my principal preoccupation in chairing the CMA.
We are now on the right course for the CMA to offer real and vibrant sector leadership. The vision is in place.
We have a very busy year ahead and I promise you regular updates on progression. The CMA works at its best when bringing people together. I look forward to welcoming everyone to Saturday’s Community Media Conference. Let us come together, share our successes and be inspired to realise the full potential of community media in the UK.
Best to all,
CMA AGM/Conference Saturday 12th September 2015
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