Thank you to all those members who joined us at our Annual General Meeting at The Royal Society in London last month. Read on for our summary of the event.

This year’s ALCS Annual General Meeting was held at the prestigious Royal Society in London, and was followed by a panel debate on ‘Writing in the Digital Age’. Thank you to the record number of members who attended.

Owen Atkinson, Chief Executive, began the proceedings by welcoming over 250 ALCS members to the 38th Annual General Meeting. He was delighted to announce, he said, that 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of ALCS, by which time the organisation will have collected and paid out just under half a billion pounds to its members. He added:

“In 2016 we collected just under £31 million from the agreements we have in place with 46 countries throughout the world. This was an increase of £0.5 million over last year’s figure and the sixth successive year that members’ income has exceeded £30 million.”

Owen also confirmed that ALCS is fully settled into its new home at Barnard’s Inn in Holborn, sharing offices with the Publishers Licensing Society (PLS) and the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA). He also announced that in December a fourth organisation, the Educational Recording Agency (ERA), which licenses audio-visual content in schools and universities, will be joining them, creating a hub for collective licensing. Sharing premises in this way, he said, creates opportunities for savings, which are then passed on to members by way of low commission rates.

Owen then spoke of how the world of collective licensing is changing, with ALCS facing threats to its revenue on a range of fronts as a result. ALCS has set itself key challenges in order to meet these and other threats, he said and had developed a strategic plan to shape the direction of the organisation over the next three years.

Barbara Hayes, Deputy CEO, then addressed ALCS members about the implications of Brexit and what writers will need to do in order to flourish in future, emphasising that ALCS is keen to retain its excellent working relationships within the EU – which, she stated, is reasonably positive towards creators. ALCS will, she said, be working to lobby influencers within the Brexit discussions to avoid veering into a US-type copyright landscape that is less advantageous for writers.

Mark Bispham, Head of Finance at ALCS, then gave an overview of the financial results for the year to 31 March 2016. He reported that licence income increased by 1.5% to £30.7 million with receipts arriving from 38 different countries. ALCS distributed £32.7 million to its members in 2016, which represented a small increase on 2015.

Following the financial report, it was confirmed that two positions are currently vacant on the ALCS Board of Directors, with 11 candidates standing in the current Board election. You can see a list of the candidates in the news bulletin in this issue of ALCS News – please don’t forget to vote!

Outgoing Chair of the ALCS Board, Adam Singer, then gave a heartfelt farewell speech about his time as Chair, and the crucial work that ALCS does for writers. He thanked his fellow Board Members for their hard work over the past three years, and then welcomed children’s writer Tony Bradman as incoming Chair of the Board.

Tony closed the AGM with his inaugural speech as Chair, giving a brief history of everything that ALCS has achieved since its inception in 1977 and the parallels with his own writing career. He said: “ALCS and I were like two plot lines approaching each other and we were going to meet eventually.”

The next AGM will be held in Manchester in November 2017.


Tony Bradman, new Chair of ALCS. Photo © Michael Wheeler