Well what a year it has been. Little did we know in early March just one year after the launch of ABBA, that the next nine months would see the world change, probably forever. It has seemed a little surreal but as a primarily online botanical art group, ABBA has thrived which might have something to do with long periods locked up in our homes with less of the hustle and bustle we normally have to deal with.
In this newsletter we thought it would be a nice touch to just run over what has been achieved this year for a small association. We hope you have a few moments to read the following post so grab something warm or cool, depending on which part of the world you live and catch up with what has happened with ABBA this year.
Believe it or not ABBA is still only twenty months "young" but our membership numbers have grown spectacularly. Given that the initial ABBA membership comprised the 40 odd artists who had exhibited at the World Wide Day of Botanical Art in May 2018 membership now is in the hundreds and distributed across 27 countries. Giving free membership for a year as a gift to botanical artists certainly helped but since that initial gesture finished in May our numbers continue to grow at a rate of one a week. We also decided in these tough financial times, to drop the membership from £45 per year to £25 and this will not change for 2021. Membership runs for a full 12 months regardless of the time of year you join so if you are thinking of joining ABBA we would love to hear from you.
We are now reaching the stage where we are going to need some more help and even though we have a great "backend" so to speak there is always room for help, particularly with some of the proposed initiatives we are thinking about for next year. If you are a member, supporter or just an observer and would like to get involved with a very friendly team, we would love to hear from you so just drop us a line via email at email@example.com .
Communicating with You
You may not be aware but what you are reading now is our newsletter, our main means of communication with our members and supporters as well as the front of our website. With every blog we try to bring something a little bit different to our readers as shown with our recent conversation about the definition of the terms botanical art and botanical illustration that was deliberately aligned with our current members exhibition, Purely Botanical? So far this year we have posted sixteen articles that varied from tips on starting botanical art as a beginner to our recent in-depth articles on a definition of terms. We are always looking for new material so if you would like to contribute or you have a suggestion for a single or series of articles, then please drop us a line. Look out for a series on vellum early in the new year.
Our other means of communication is by direct personalised email to our members for special events of for invitations that are relevant only to our members. For example, calls to submit work to our exhibitions. Our other means of communicating with our members, supporters and followers is via social media which reaches a wider audience.
Farewell & Hello
This year also saw our Founding President Gaynor Dickeson and our Founding Secretary Robin Dickeson both retire from active engagement with ABBA to start a new life in Norway. Gaynor and Robin were both instrumental in developing the concept of ABBA as a botanical art society for every one, every where and every ability. If you would like to find out a little more about Gaynor and Robin go to our blogpost "Tusen Takk". We wish them all the best with their new adventure and we are sure a new Scandinavian branch of ABBA will prosper and we are looking forward to seeing entries of the Norwegian flora from Gaynor in our future exhibitions.
Another retiree from the ABBA Team was Anne Girling, our Champions Coordinator who has been with us from the beginning in 2019. Anne played a key role in developing the model for our Champions and we have taken this to the next level with our online Zoom series as described below. Thank you Anne for your thoughtful input and above all your valuable time. We wish you well for the future.
Our current President Elaine Allison has seamlessly taken up the reins and has overseen both the spectacular growth of the ABBA membership and the expansion of the ABBA Team. Elaine is really looking forward to 2021 and it has been a struggle to hold her back from spouting about the exciting new initiatives planned for the coming year.
ABBA & Social Media
A major advance this year has been the formation of our Social Media Team hosted by Marie Batters, Emma Van Klaveren-Finlay and Martin Allen. Although we did have a Facebook page it was used primarily to promote the regular blog on the website and not as a showcase in its own right. Marie, Emma and Martin kindly agreed to take on the task of promoting ABBA to the world by the social media channels of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and from the outset the success of these channels has been a nice surprise. ABBA now has over 2800 Facebook and 1136 Instagram followers after just six months. As Emma, Marie and Martin report:
"As we started the year Emma and Martin were spreading the word via Facebook and Twitter, sharing useful links to events, not only held by ABBA, but throughout the Botanical art community.
In June, Marie joined the team and we added Instagram to our social media portfolio, enabling us to share more of our members' artworks across the various platforms.
Emma also launched a series on our Facebook page, discussing the different tools artists may find useful.
We're really excited to be able to share your artwork with a wider audience, from exhibition highlights of our 'Purely Botanical?' exhibition to monthly features, such as 'Plant of the Month' which we launched in August, and our new rolling seasonal Facebook banner, launched in November.
As we start to plan for next year, we are looking forward to not only sharing more of your amazing artworks, but we also have lots of ideas for future content that we hope you will enjoy.
Emma, Martin and Marie,