“Art, fun and friendship, that sums up exactly what we are about,” Tim Robinson, the Chairman of the Arts Society Mallorca, and I are sitting on his terrace sipping a brew. I am courageously ignoring the plate of biscuits that Sabine, his wife, has generously placed in front of us, as Tim recounts the origins of the society. “It started in 1965 when a woman called Patricia Fay led a small group of young women eager to know more about the arts. It developed from these small beginnings to what it is now, which is a leading arts education charity with a global network of over 380 local societies. The Arts Society brings people together through a shared curiosity for the arts. Their events provide welcoming places – locally, nationally and globally – to hear expert lecturers share their specialist knowledge about the arts.” And that is exactly what the Majorca branch will be doing again for the upcoming 2021/2022 season.
From the perspective of an outsider you might think that you need to have a background and knowledge of the arts, but Tim says no, not at all, “The Arts Society is for anyone, you don’t have to have a clue about art, all you need is curiosity and an open mind.” And, I think to myself, it’s also a rather good place to go and make some new friends, and catch up with old ones. The timetable for the talks are normally the same, arrive at the venue, perhaps buy a drink at the bar, find your seat, listen to the talk, which is normally around an hour, then enjoy a couple of glasses of wine and some tapas whilst chatting to the other attendees. Tim agrees, “It’s a great way to break the ice, if you don’t have anything to say to someone you can just ask them what they thought of the talk and you can start there. All you have to say to somebody is, what did you think of that? I thought he mumbled a bit. What did you think? You have an instant icebreaker. That in itself means a friendship is already being developed”.
How has the Society coped with the last year of restrictions?
“We did quite well, we think. We had just had a very successful event at Son Muntaner, in what I can honestly say is our dream venue, and then we were into lockdown. All of our talks had to go online and so the members had to learn how to use Zoom, as did we!” Now that restrictions have been relaxed the plans for the season are in full swing with a nice variety of options, from an organised wine tasting at Macia Batle, to a Christmas Sibila concert, a members’ art exhibition in the new year, the Arts Society committee are very (excuse the pun) committed and working hard to create fun and stimulating options for their members. Each and every event will run according to current COVID-19 guidelines and to the venues’ requirements.
Why did Tim and Sabine choose Mallorca?
“We were looking for somewhere that had an international or a mixed population. Because having been an expat for 10 years in the Bahamas, we thought that we needed to move somewhere where there were going to be like minded people. And we came here for a couple of weeks to have a look around. Could we afford to buy here, for example. And it ticked all the boxes, especially when we walked into the Olivar market and saw a vast array of fresh produce, such as we hadn’t seen for 10 years. It was like something from a Fellini film. Wow. And it just absolutely blew our minds. And that convinced us that this was the place to come.”
How did Tim get involved with the Society?
“I was invited to a Blevins Franks’ event shortly after my wife and I moved here, and it developed from there. Blevins Franks are now the main season sponsor for the society and without them the committee would struggle to keep the membership prices as low as they are. We certainly didn’t want people to feel they couldn’t afford to come, so the individual membership is 90€ for the year and this includes the seven scheduled talk events hosted by experts who are approved by the main Arts Society, and your wine and tapas after the talk as well. That works out to less than 13€ an evening which we think is a reasonable price. We are able to maintain those prices because of our sponsors. Specsavers are sponsoring the first event of the season, and the Society has IBEX Insurance and Ticket Travel as season sponsors but we are actively seeking more sponsors for the other events this winter. If your business would be interested to be involved then don’t hesitate to get in touch.”
Why does Tim feel that the arts and culture are important?
“Well, I think if you’re doing a job and in a profession that requires a lot of concentration on very specific detailed things. You need something to broaden your horizons. You need something to take yourself out of yourself. And whether it’s an art gallery, or a concert, whether it’s Mozart or Led Zeppelin. It enables you to get out of yourself and relax. Take a few hours out and then somehow you’re refreshed to get on with what you have to do for life. It’s also very enriching in the sense that you learn a lot and you’re able to exercise your judgement. Decide on the things that you like, things that you don’t like, why do you like this? Why don’t you like that? I think it’s a very broadening experience.
“Look at say, somebody like Banksy. Probably fifteen years ago his art would have been thought of as vandalism. Now, it’s worth a fortune. Now, what it’s worth is not a judgement of its aesthetic value. But it does show that things can become acceptable that were condemned in the first instance. And that’s all part of breaking down barriers. Something that one might say, “Well, what on earth is that all about? I don’t understand that.” I can’t see any artistic merit in that, well, that might just be the extreme, that opens up the door to perhaps a more moderate version of the same thing, that people then start to find acceptable. It moves from acceptable to appreciate it to appreciate it to collectible, to collectible to very valuable. And you’ve got to be very careful in dismissing what seems to be an extreme, because it could just be the vanguard of something really worthwhile. Look at punk music, everybody who was brought up in the Sixties like myself saw little value in it. But a few years on, I can listen to that and think “Yeah, okay, I know where I know where that came from now, and I know what it led to”.
How do you decide on the subjects of the talks?
“We try to create a balance with something fairly classical, this season we have something on the Renaissance for example. We have programmed a very interesting talk on Cezanne and Van Gogh. And then something a little more modern, perhaps a little different. And that’s why I’ve Included the talk on Grayson Perry. He is a bit of a British national treasure now, and people are fascinated by him. And then I’ve also included something a little bit off the normal radar for artistic events, and that’s why we’ve got a brief story of wine. I think it might turn out to be one of the members’ favourites!”
The first Arts Society talk will be held at Son Muntaner Golf on October 14th. If you would like to attend as a guest or as a member you must reserve your place in advance.
You can find all of the information about joining and the details on all of the talks for the season on their website https://theartssociety.org/mallorca The Annual Membership Fee for season 2021/2022 is €90 and joint membership €170. Guest tickets for talks are €20. Membership includes entry to all talks, and priority booking for other events throughout the year. Members also receive four Arts Society magazines per year with informative articles, news and reviews of exhibitions, offers for art related courses and cultural trips.