• Simon Linford
    152
    The future of ringing, or the future of change ringing (and the development thereof)? I think they have different solutions.
  • Simon Smith
    4
    An interesting article @A J Barnfield, not sure that I agree with it completely but there are some good ideas in there. I don’t think the way to attract new ringers is to increase the barrier to entry by charging for tuition. Perhaps a better way would be to charge existing ringers more to pay for the benefits that they have received and continue to receive by ringing. We just paid subs and it was £8 for a year, I spend more in a year on teabags or even coffee (which I only buy for visitors as we don’t drink it)!

    I very much agree that we need to be better at self-advertising, trying to explain how much fun it is and trying to encourage new, as well as develop existing ringers. Young ringers need a network, I have delighted in seeing the new youth ringers association develop and believe that this will be one of the keys to the future of ringing. We can also learn from them, social media and network tools now allow for so much easy access and simple sharing that young people do it without even thinking about it. In old office terms this would all be about ‘brand’, but our young ringers do it naturally.

    My last point for now would be on how we ring, yes there’s tradition, yes there is respect for the equipment we use, the purpose we do it etc. But, in the end, if it isn’t fun people lose interest. If people are having fun, developing and achieving they will stay, if not they slowly drift away.
  • John Harrison
    92
    I think 'the future of' is an under defined concept. The context implies achieving some 'good' or at least acceptable long term outcome, what you define as 'good' affects not only the two answers but also yhe relationship between them.
    In simple terms for change ringing to continue sustainably then ringing must also. That's true even if the outcome is (say) 10,000 ringers, all of whom changes in (say) 1000 towers. But that might not be considered a 'good' outcome for 'ringing', certainly not by those who see change ringing as an inevitably niche activity, and advocate a future largely built on call changes.
  • A J Barnfield
    127
    I agree about the funding. I think existing ringers should pay more. I would favour more realistic membership fees with money going to admin/BRF/Training.
    I prefer to talk about a sense of reward rather than "fun" which sounds a bit light and fluffy but I agree, it has to be enjoyable. And there have to be opportunities to progress for those that can and wish to.
  • John Harrison
    92
    iwould charging really be a barrier to entry? Outside of ringing people don't expect everything to be free and expect to pay for tuition. It seems to be longer established ringers who have strong feelings about it.
    And my reaction to fun is like AJB's. Ringers certainly need to get satisfaction out of ringing to keep them hooked, but if all they get is fun I doubt it would last when something else more amusing comes along.
  • Simon Smith
    4
    I don’t think charging a fee in itself is a barrier to entry, but considering how much more of a challenge it is to recruit, length of time to learn and retain ringers, I don’t think adding a charge would particularly help. Hence why I think charging the existing, relatively large base of ringers, a few pounds more would generate significant funds to dedicate to training, development, advertising or similar. Charging a small number of new recruits just wouldn’t get to the same level of funds to reinvest in those things.
  • A J Barnfield
    127
    Charging might not be a barrier to many but the way the economy is going charging will become a barrier to an increasing number of people, particularly our target demographic. It would have been a significant barrier to me in my youth. My guess is that charging would favour white middle-class middle- aged and elderly, and the children thereof, and disadvantage other groups. Might be wrong.
  • John Harrison
    92
    I'm not convinced that charging would adversely affect recruitment. Do a thought experiment with a comparable skilled activity such as various sports, musical instruments or driving, where payment for tuition is the norm. Now suppose the charging was outlawed and all tuition had to be free. Would more adults and children come forward to learn? Would the same number of tutors be available? Would the quality of tuition be the same? I suspect not. Why should ringing be different?
  • DRJA Dewar
    5
    I wonder how charging might work. Might it be a levy on those who patronise a local tower they regard as their ringing 'home'? Would it be a levy on any ringer turning up 'on spec.' at any tower? Could such a levy be waived in the situation where a visiting ringer attends but finds the ringing standard rather low*, and leaves before the end?

    * - perhaps including the situation where a tower has a 'good' reputation, but on a particular day when the visitor attends on the basis of the reputation there are few ringers present who could uphold that reputation at that time?
  • Simon Linford
    152
    A few weeks ago one of the young ringers at Moseley started coming to the Monday night 'adults' practice in addition to the Thursday night 'kids' practice. When I started the kids practices I put a charge on it - just a token £2 - but it made the point that it shouldn't be free. We we pay for certificates, snacks, the odd broken stay, etc. When they turned up to the adult practice they didn't understand why the same charge didn't apply, and it was interesting having to explain to the parent why it was.
  • Simon Linford
    152
    One of the big decisions made at the inception of the Birmingham School of Bell Ringing was charging. We set it at £5 a session, and that would be at a session which would have a maximum of about four students. It has never met any resistance, and the only feedback we have received was that it should be higher.
  • A J Barnfield
    127
    I guess that the parents bringing children to ring at Moseley are not currently using a foodbank.

    AJB
  • John Harrison
    92
    the increased need for food banks may be a sad commentary on current political and social values the idea that povert is the main, or even a, constraint on recruiting ringers is laughable. The hang up about paying for things in ringing is something generated within the ringing community, which those outside find hard to understand.
  • A J Barnfield
    127
    A few years ago I would have agreed with you. Not now.
  • DRJA Dewar
    5
    Simon Linford: I'm not sure we've met - I gave up ringing many years ago in the face of a greatly increased musical and, more latterly, academic workload.
    I'm not sure how (I should say that I am thinking now about getting back to ringing, if I can find anywhere in my area which has any interesting ringing) a training session relates to a stimulating 'practice', in the context of paying. It was the latter of which I was thinking. If someone went to a tower event in the hope of a stimulating evening based on the apparent local reputation, but found that the reality fell short, why might one wish to part with funds?
  • Simon Smith
    4
    Interesting thoughts, argument and counter argument here on the accidental ringer blog - https://dingdong887180022.wordpress.com/2020/10/31/should-we-charge-for-bell-ringing-lessons/
  • John Harrison
    92
    intersting article. Certainly there are positive aspects of the voluntary model, which may partly explain why it has persisted. But I don't think the example in the story is a very good analogy for teaching ringing. Jack already had the skill to play and was playing with the older man as an equal. I think that would equate more closely to ringing with Jack the ringer in quarter peals, where both parties benefit. That already happens a lot, and afia no one has suggested payment for it.
    The question for ringing is how to get enough Jacks an Jill's to the point where they can take part on on an equal footing in collective ringing. That requires far more individual tuition to develop the core skills than it would for a game like pool. The practical problem is the limited number of teachers who are competent to impart the skills, are in the right places where they are needed, and have enough time to give away for the number of re ruins needed. The result is not enough quality teaching for enough people.
    So how do you increase the supply of hours of competent tuition? First you motivate competent teachers with spare time to give it away. We already do that, but we need more. How do you persuade competent people who don't have time to give away because they are busy trying to make a living? What happens with other performance arts? Some people make part of their living by being paid for teaching. Oh, I forgot, ringers don't believe in that. So let's carry on doing the same as before and hope for a different outcome.
    I don't suggest that charging is a panacea. It's not, because we are all locked into a different way of doing things, so it's hard for any individual to change. The entrepreneurs who could make it work will deploy their skills doing other things where there is a demand. Ruling it out seems a needless constraint to impose on ourselves.
  • A J Barnfield
    127
    Going back to Simon's post at the top of the thread, I think that in terms of keeping bells ringing there is not that big a problem. There are plenty of ringers about and the old guilds and associations keep the social networks going. The real problem is method ringing. That is where we need to get a grip. The ideas are there, we now need widespread implementation urgently.
  • John de Overa
    72

    There are plenty of ringers about and the old guilds and associations keep the social networks going.

    You must be ringing on a completely different planet to me. Where I am the local associations are mostly moribund and the majority of towers in the area are silent because there are no ringers left to ring them. That's not hyperbole, in my town only 1 of the 3 towers is still ringing, and it's even worse in the wider area. For example in Tameside there's a 12 bell in a Georgian Grade 1 listed church that are not rung, and the church itself is likely to be shut down.

    http://www.tamesidehistoryforum.org.uk/bellringing.htm

    And that's the situation 2 years ago - the numbers ringing in the 2 most active towers have more or less halved since then. A population of 1/4 million and probably only 20 active ringers.
  • A J Barnfield
    127
    I think that there are a number of different ringing planets and ringer's perspectives are heavily determined by how things are where they ring. This drives a range of very different opinions on how things are and what solutions might be possible. I am sure there are areas where things are just dandy and areas that are lost beyond redemption. What I have trouble with is getting an overall feel of the total picture.

    Personally i would like to see a national list like yours above to give us some idea.

    I accept that this is most unlikely to happen. Folk will not provide the data. And it would of course go nowhere near telling the full story of the state of affairs, but it would be a start. And as is often mentioned it would be of little use pulling the numbers from annual reports. There are plenty of towers I guess with seeming ample ringers on the books who meet short on Sunday.

    And if a full listing is not going to take place we need to get some sort of picture somehow.
  • John de Overa
    72
    It has to be said that the East side of Manchester has been a blackspot for a very long time, from what I've been told - long before I started ringing.

    My real concern is that once the last core of ringers is gone it may be practically impossible to restart things, and all the towers in the area will become permanently silent.
  • A J Barnfield
    127
    The photos on the web page from your link are typical of the first couple of decades after the war; one or two middle-aged or elderly and a bunch of youngsters. Have a look on BellBoard now and it tends to be the other way round.

    What are the prospects of the remaining 20 ringers in your area working together as one unified band (if they don't already) and concentrate on training and development? What are the experience levels of those 20? Are any of the bells/locations suitable for use as a training centre/school (if it is not already?)
  • John de Overa
    72
    I think the changes are slim, unfortunately. The geographical area in question is split across 4 different associations - Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire & Derbyshire. Whilst there is some movement between the small number of towers that are still active it's limited. The experience level is not great - most towers are CC only, and struggle with PH. Most of the long standing ringers are elderly and have never got beyond CC/PH, so there's nowhere for new recruits "to go to" in terms of progression. Change ringing is effectively dead in the area - there are a couple of surprise-level towers outside the immediate area but they tend to keep themselves to themselves. I have to travel to the opposite side of Manchester to do anything more advanced, and I'm reliant on the goodwill of the ringers there as I can't service ring there, for example, as I'm helping keep the last remaining tower in my town going.

    Myself and a couple of others are trying our best but it's a monumental struggle. I helped get our bells rehung in 2018, we had a simulator installed and I've been on the ART bell handling course and got 2 people almost to the point where they were just about ringing on their own - then, COVID...

    The problem isn't bells - we have empty towers full of them - it's people, and momentum.
  • A J Barnfield
    127
    I am sorry that you have to reply on the good will of others ( I assume this is at traditional local tower practices?) This is why we need to set things up outside of the traditional tower structure. You might still have to travel.
  • John de Overa
    72
    Yes, I go along to a their weekly practice. But they are also short of ringers - it's an 8-bell tower but there are usually only 6-7 of us. I don't mind the travelling, it's more that it's a symptom of there being effectively no method ringing and therefore no way for me to progress any further, this side of Manchester.
  • Tristan Lockheart
    18

    I am increasingly of the opinion that some sort of census of ringers is required. No-one knows how many active ringers we have, their standard, if they can/do teach, and how often they visit each tower. Association/guild membership numbers seem to mean nothing now, with people not being active, not bothering with membership, or being double-counted by being a member of multiple guilds.

    My worry is that we are overlooking areas where ringing is on the edge. The critical mass of ringers is faltering in some of the major cities even, and it's getting to the point where we don't have the handling instructors to take advantage of many of the recruitment opportunities which present themselves. Progression routes are minimal - there are call-changes towers and the elite towers, and increasingly little in-between.
  • Simon Linford
    152
    The possibility of a survey was discussed on another thread a month or so ago. Needs serious consideration and it is going to get picked up in some current CC discussions.

    On overall numbers, a proposal is being put to the CC meeting in September to move CC affiliation fees to being based on the number of members rather than the number of Reps. Under the current Rules associations have justified their number of Representatives based on declared membership numbers, and whilst it's very unlikely that numbers are exaggerated just to get an extra Rep, there has been no motivation either to be absolutely certain the number is right. Moving to a model which has a direct link between number of members and cost (albeit not a particularly high cost) is likely to lead to much tighter scrutiny by societies of how many members they actually have.

    The total number of members declared by societies for the purposes of numbers of CC Reps is about 35,000. There will be a little duplication of course, but not that much.
  • John Harrison
    92
    I would be surprised if societies that charge a subscription report different numbers from the subs collected. But that's not the main problem, which is that 'paying members' might not actually do any ringing. When I did the analysis locally a few years ago the difference was significant (from memory ~20%). That's far more than the slight over counting from multiple memberships, which I estimated when analysing CC affiliation fees in 2014. (I forget the figure, the paper is on my website.
  • John de Overa
    72
    I think your second paragraph is an accurate summary. I suspect teaching and progression has never been great round here, but in the past when more people were starting it was always possible to "muddle through" and the consequential attrition didn't matter. That's a luxury that can no longer be afforded - every new ringer is precious.
  • Tristan Lockheart
    18
    On overall numbers, a proposal is being put to the CC meeting in September to move CC affiliation fees to being based on the number of members rather than the number of Reps. Under the current Rules associations have justified their number of Representatives based on declared membership numbers, and whilst it's very unlikely that numbers are exaggerated just to get an extra Rep, there has been no motivation either to be absolutely certain the number is right. Moving to a model which has a direct link between number of members and cost (albeit not a particularly high cost) is likely to lead to much tighter scrutiny by societies of how many members they actually have.Simon Linford

    Sounds interesting - what sort of cost per member is being looked at?
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to your Ringing Forums!

If you would like to join in the conversation, please register for an account.

You will only be able to post and/or comment once you have confirmed your email address and been approved by an Admin.