Again, some of these issues are ones that the Committee has already discussed. That might be as one-offs, or as a recurring item, and in more or less depth.
Le Corbusier wrote:Here are a few musings of my own .... which all are free to ignore as they may be well off base.
You make some good points, and as I said before, some are points that we have discussed in terms of the stewardship of the Society.
Le Corbusier wrote:
Looking from the outside - if one were considering this as a business then some form of decisive action (now) would be the order of the day ....unless there is reason to believe that these trends are either temporary or realistically reversible .... expending an ever increasing amount of effort on a failing 'model'
when the writing is already on the wall rarely if ever succeeds -the danger being that one waits too long.
Fortunately, we are in the position that we are aware of the majority of these issues, and the risks that they pose. Barring a significant incident, or a cliff-edge type change, then we do have the luxury of being able to adjust the Society's activities appropriately. And thanks to careful management of funds, and in particular the continued success of Jeremy and the Stores in producing revenue, then we are on a sound financial footing to deal with change. And example of how this gave us a cushion was when we were faced with a steep rise in the cost of renting Leatherhead for Scaleforum. We had to carry that increased cost in the short-term before we were able to find a lower cost alternative venue at Aylesbury.
Le Corbusier wrote:The trader issues appear to be part of a wider trend reflective of much wider issues within the hobby and perhaps impacts from the wider economic framing/changing patterns of selling. Mitigation and perhaps a degree of adaptation may well be where the Scalefour soc. ought to be ... except in those areas where a more proactive role is possible (perhaps in concert with such as the EMGS?). So just accept that things are changing and act accordingly.
Yes, the demographic and economic changes (state pension age at 75 years anyone? As proposed by a Tory think-tank earlier this week.) will become more and more significant. And almost certainly irreversible. To coin a phrase, we never had it so good...
There are already things that we have explored with the EMGS. Because it happens behind the scenes, and members don't need to be aware of it, it wouldn't be known that we do things like joint purchases of rail with the EMGS. That enables us both to meet the minimum purchase quantities of suppliers without tying up too much of either society's funds in stock. That is just one example.
Le Corbusier wrote:
Scaleforum itself, membership numbers and concerns over demographics is perhaps a different issue. It should be possible to achieve more impact here dependent upon strategy. But it does depend upon what the goal is and being clear about what people actually want.
The Committee always aims to listen to the members. Sometimes things are just impractical - like a wandering Scaleforum at a different location each year. We aim to promote finescale modelling, to not be elitist, and to show what can be done. Beyond that, we're open to new (and sensible!) ideas.
Le Corbusier wrote:
For instance, bemoaning a lack of younger members and worrying about an ageing demographic is one thing, but to seriously address this might well take everyone out of their comfort zone and even take the society in a direction the current majority would not want it to travel
(perhaps the current model will continue to renew with retirement and/or later middle age being the new point of renewal).
Your latter point is actually one that we recognise, that in today's society (small "s") people's priorities are now education, career, family, mortgage, in some permutation of that order. It is only when those boxes are ticked that people _generally_ have the time and money to return to hobbies that may have attracted them at school age, or perhaps even discover them for the first time. Although with four separate international business trips in the month after Scaleforum, I'm still waiting for my own personal modelling time to reappear!
And yes, the Committee does have radical ideas, and some of them may not be popular. Time will tell...
Le Corbusier wrote:To actively attract young adults might require a level of effort unconnected with the day to day modelling everyone loves, and for which it would therefore be hard to find volunteers. I would suggest that to attract a younger cohort some form of outreach would be necessary. That would mean a presence outside the model railway circuit itself and also a sales pitch which perhaps emphasised creativity/mini engineering etc. Would that seriously be something anybody would be interested in? There also I think needs to be an acceptance that group modelling would be essential .... my observations of younger adults is that they have limited disposable income and a total lack of space to dedicate to hobbies - that could of course be a positive if it lead to a social cohering around modelling.
All good points, and you hit the nail on the head with the need for volunteers. Scaleforum survives (for now). Even that was a close run thing. Will that be the case in five years time? Who knows?
Which reminds me. I must go over and see how many members have contributed new material to the Scalefour Notes, that others can share and benefit from...
Le Corbusier wrote:
I may be proved wrong, but I would be surprised if any of these thoughts generated much enthusiasm
.... but they may stir the pot a little. After all we all like our cosy familiar world and really just want others to share in this enjoyment and queue up to join in
I think enthusiasm is over-stating it a little bit. We are conscious and alert. Whether the Society wants to change is a matter for the Society, ultimately. Membership numbers remain strong. There is some superb modelling being done. There is a lot to be positive about. We hope that it stays that way.