What a year we have experienced since our last AGM! Qui l’eût cru?
Our Alliance had to shut down for several months. No French Film Festival, which was cancelled the day before Opening Night. No monthly coffee/ conversation mornings after last year’s AGM. No face-to face classes for months. No annual Concours in its well-known format( much to the disappointment of many school students) and no Open House for members or passing francophones.
As the Fondation des Alliances Françaises has the spread of French language and culture as its “raison d’être”, we must abide by directives from Paris and we did the best we could in trying circumstances in 2020. We did get emails from Paris from time to time, asking how small Alliances were coping during the year-no offer of help though.
Naturally, the number of students attending our classes was down in 2020, so I would ask every member to publicise our classes by word of mouth (which works so well in Tasmania) or else we could fold as an organisation and I am confident that none of you would like that to happen. To be an Alliance Française means more than being a social group and we need the income from classes to pay the rent here. Fortunately, Lambert School, which owns this house agreed to a substantially reduced rent for 6 months and this is the only reason we are still here.
Our annual Concours was unable to proceed due to Covid and only the Poster section went ahead. We included posters from Grade 7 students for the first time, as these were creations that could be done at home during lockdown. Thanks again to Carolyn Canty for judging. We were, of course, unable to hold a prize-giving evening, but all poster creators received either a Credit or participation certificate. Thanks to the MLTAT for their grant which helped buy certificates.
Last Saturday, February 20th, Kate Neasey and Ans van Heijster organised a Professional Learning Day for French teachers of Primary and early High School, as this is part of what Alliances Françaises need to do world-wide. We provided those who attended with participation certificates.
Social events were, of course, restricted and we were unable to celebrate le 14 juillet as usual. However, by August we felt confident enough to hold a luncheon to celebrate the start of Le Tour de France. Numbers were carefully monitored, but with Jean-Pascal catering, we easily filled places. It was SO good to see members again. In mid-September we had the postponed Poetry reading by Christiane Bostock from her book of poems, M. Monet. A most successful afternoon, as Christiane is such a well-known Hobart poet. Mid-October, we had a Musical afternoon here: committee members presented their favourite French songs and activities accompanied some items. Our final social event for the year was a cocktail party here in early December.
After our last AGM, Kath McGinty offered to co-ordinate a roster for us to have an Open House session once a week. These had to be put on hold during Covid, but returned later in the year and are now running again this year on a Wednesday afternoon from 3:00-5:00 p.m.
At the start of this year, we have already started our CCC mornings and on 14th February, we hosted the Alliances Françaises de Tasmanie annual picnic. This year it was held at Longford and the large number of participants was most pleasing. Of course the weather helped.
We have had several book and DVD donations over the past 12 months as people downsize or move away. Unfortunately, we will not be able to accept any more donations due to lack of space. Books can be borrowed by members and don’t forget the shelves in our classrooms as well as the ones in this Open area. Please help yourself before you leave today to any books displayed on the tables in Salle 1.
We have been appalled at the decision by UTAS to offer French henceforth only Online. I sincerely thank Jane Pollard and Jan Perkins for running Online classes through the Alliance during the year, but the low numbers proved that this is not how students wish to learn another language.
I wish the incoming committee much success in 2021 and I look forward to discussing any ideas, suggestions or concerns with you during our CCC mornings.
President AF Hobart