2014 – 2018

The British Viola Society invites comments and suggestions on the proposals in this Draft Strategy.

Comments should be sent by email or post to the BVS  Secretary at the address below,  by 30th September 2014. 

Email :

c/o Birmingham Conservatoire

Paradise Place
Fletcher’s Walk
B3 3HG

Telephone: 0121 3315901

Brief replies may also be submitted via the ‘COMMENTS’ box at the bottom of the page.

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2014 – 2018

Consultation draft: 19th July 2014

1. Introduction

The British Viola Society was launched  at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester on 14 October 2012. It  superseded  the English Viola Society, founded  in September 2007 by the late Professor John White (Honorary President) and Dr Louise Lansdown (President).

The British Viola Society is currently developing its charitable objectives and  it  exists for the benefit of violists, students, amateurs and professionals, aiming to support, promote and encourage every aspect of  playing, teaching, composing, instrument making and research relevant to the viola in the United Kingdom.

The British Viola Society (BVS) is a member of the International Viola Society (IVS).  7% of members’ subscriptions go to the IVS, which brings together several thousand violists across eighteen countries (

The British Viola Society is run by a board made up entirely of volunteers who are all passionate about promoting the viola in every possible sphere in the UK and beyond.

The 2014 Board members are:

  • Dr Louise Lansdown – President
  •  Martin Outram – Vice-President
  • Sue Douglas – Secretary
  • Michael Freyhan – Treasurer
  • Janet Pazio Executive Secretary – Membership
  • Ben Lawrence Executive Secretary – Facebook
  • Laura Sinnerton Executive Secretary – Twitter

2. Aims and Objectives

The aim of the Society is to promote, advance, improve and develop public education in the study, practice and appreciation of the viola and its repertoire.


The British Viola Society has four key objectives:

  1. To promote and encourage research, publications and activities relating to the viola and violists.
  2. To act as host or co-host and assist with arrangements for INTERNATIONAL VIOLA CONGRESSES, (when awarded to the Society by the IVS) and to assist with British Viola Society events (e.g. concerts, conventions, workshops, informal gatherings).
  3. To create and maintain any present or future BVS archive (for historical records and audit purposes).
  4. To inform members of recent and forthcoming events, publications and general items “violistic”.

 Our values

Access – to ensure an inclusive Society which involves all viola players: amateurs, students, teachers, luthiers, performers and music  lovers  from across the United Kingdom.

Development – to inspire excellence, inspiration and promotion of the viola in all teaching and performance contexts.

Creativity – to develop and promote appreciation of individual interpretation and composition of new viola repertoire.

3. Review of current situation

The Society has seen considerable growth in membership and activities in the twenty months since its launch in 2012.  The Society is funded by annual membership subscriptions and donations.  Running costs are minimised through use of electronic communications and volunteer time.

Both the English and Welsh Viola Societies ceased to exist when the British Viola Society was formed and the BVS membership of the IVS, means that it now has little, or no, direct competition in the United Kingdom.  The BVS and IVS both have viola related on-line discussion  groups which are free to join.  These include and a BVS FaceBook group and Twitter account.

The Society is currently working to achieve charitable status, which will formalise its structure and bring added benefits, such as opportunities for grant funding and the HMRC Gift Aid scheme.

Achievements 2012 – 2014

In the twenty months since its inaugural meeting, the Society has established itself as a voice for the viola in the United Kingdom and is attracting a growing membership from across the viola world, developing services for viola players and makers, through: –

  • A review and refresh of the BVS website;
  • New viola resources on the website, such as members’ advertisements for selling viola and also luthiers.
  • Discounted tickets for concerts and events;
  • Development of BVS promotion via Social media: FaceBook and Twitter;
  • Growth in membership from 10 in August 2013 to over 100 in May 2014;
  • Collaboration with Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University for the Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition planned for October 2014.
  • Active involvement with the International Viola Society, with two BVS proposals accepted for the 2014 Congress in Porto.

4. Conclusions

The table below summarises the strengths and weaknesses of the Society:

  • Dedicated support from the BVS President .
  • Dedicated  volunteers on the Committee.
  • BVS is an independent section of the International Viola Society, bringing respect and focus.
  • Increased emphasis on viola teaching and excellence across the UK.
  • Increasing membership from across the British viola fraternity
  • Aligned to Cecil Aronowitz competition which promotes the viola to young people
  • Effective promotion via Website and e-newsletters.


  • Lack of budget for active marketing and promotion.
  • No income other than subscriptions.


  • Working with more professional violists:  teachers and performers.
  • Work with International Viola Society.
  • New viola compositions.
  • Charitable status.
  • Grant Funding .


  • Risk of members not renewing annual subscriptions.
  • Competition from other viola websites and Social media such as FaceBook.

5. Strategy for 2014/15 – 2017/18

The BVS Committee has developed a Strategy for the three years 2014/15 -2017/18, through four Strategic  Aims:

STRATEGIC AIM 1: To ensure the Society offers an open and accessible service, to maintain and increase membership. We will –

  1. Maintain and develop the website.
  2. Develop  social media to promote the Society.
  3. Send out regular newsletters to members with recent and forthcoming events, publications, and general items “violistic”.
  4. Publish an annual BVS Journal.
  5. Maintain efficient administrative and financial services.
  6. Secure Charitable status and seek  HMRC Grant aid.

STRATEGIC AIM 2: To raise the profile of the viola amongst amateurs and professional players, young people and teachers. We will support and promote –

  1. Viola Days and workshops for  amateurs, school and  conservatoire level students across the United Kingdom.
  2. Professional and  student viola concerts and recitals.
  3. Viola  lectures, masterclasses and seminars.
  4. New viola teaching methods and publications.

STRATEGIC AIM 3: To promote viola excellence. We will  –

  1. Work with the Birmingham Conservatoire and Birmingham City University to deliver the 2014 and 2016 Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competitions.
  2. Promote other Viola competitions in the United Kingdom and across the  world.
  3. Actively engage in all the International Viola Congress, with representation at the 2014 Congress in  Porto.
  4. Host the 2018 International Viola Congress in Birmingham.
  5. Seek  funding to establish  a BVS Bursary scheme.

STRATEGIC AIM 4 : To promote and develop  the viola repertoire. We will –

  1. Commission new works for the International Viola Congress in Porto on 2014.
  2. Establish a new Viola Composition Competition for 2015/16.