Last month, the 40th AGM of ALCS was held at The Royal Society in London.

Tony Bradman, Chair of ALCS welcomed nearly 150 members to the 2018 Annual General at The Royal Society in central London with the news that ALCS had once again had a record-breaking year, with over £34.3 million paid out to authors, one third of whom are audio-visual writers working in radio, television and film.

In the light of the general climate for authors’ earnings, and ALCS’ own 2018 research which shows that the income of the average professional writer has fallen to £10,500 per annum, Tony emphasised the vital importance of organisations such as the Society of Authors, the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, Directors UK and ALCS in lobbying and campaigning for the rights of authors, most recently in the submission of oral evidence about writers’ incomes to the All Party Writers Group (APWG).

Tony also paid tribute to the founders of ALCS, in particular to ALCS’ Honorary President Maureen Duffy who was present at the AGM.

Owen Atkinson, Chief Executive of ALCS then took to the stand to announce that in 2018, ALCS had collected £32.1 million in royalty income – the eighth consecutive year that such income has exceeded £30 million. ALCS has members in 115 countries worldwide, with total membership now standing at over 100,000. ALCS also currently has reciprocal agreements with 55 other societies in 40 countries worldwide, he said, with that list continuing to grow. There was, however, no place for complacency in its work, Owen added, emphasising the continuing vital importance of ALCS’ lobbying efforts. “We can only make payments because of the legislation that exists,” he stressed.

Barbara Hayes, ALCS’ Deputy Chief Executive, then summarised the progress of this lobbying over the past year, particularly in the context of Brexit. ALCS is keen to see as much of the current legislative landscape preserved after Britain leaves the EU, she said, and therefore welcomed the recent proposed legislation around educational exceptions, as advocated for by ALCS in collaboration with the Publishers Licensing Services (PLS) and the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA). Barbara added her own tribute to the vital role played by the APWG, notably in overseeing the extension of Public Lending Right (PLR) to remote e-lending where ALCS lobbied heavily in conjunction with the Society of Authors; and to the work of the International Authors Forum (IAF) in helping to counter threats to copyright and IP globally.

Owen Atkinson then returned to summarise other recent ALCS developments, including the office move to premises in London Bridge, where ALCS will benefit from sharing offices with PLS, CLA and the Educational Recording Agency (ERA). Owen also confirmed that a new three-year ALCS strategy will be announced at the 2019 AGM. In the coming year, with 90% of ALCS’ overseas income deriving from EU countries, ALCS would continue to be vigilant. 2019 was set, he said, to be “interesting!”

The formal proceedings of the AGM then followed, including the statutory presentation of ALCS’ Accounts and Directors’ Report by Mark Bispham, Head of Finance. Richard Combes, Head of Rights and Licensing, then addressed Members about the Annual Transparency Report in which, he explained, ALCS had adhered to the new rules and regulations about such documents while also making the report useful to Members. There followed the opportunity for Members to ask questions of the ALCS management and its Board of Directors.

Tony Bradman then announced the results of the recent ALCS Board election. Elected to the Board for the first time were writers Joanne Harris and Di Redmond, with Maggie Gee re-elected for a second term. He congratulated them, and thanked outgoing Board Member and Vice Chair, James McConnachie for all his efforts.

Tony then closed the 2018 AGM by thanking the staff and Board of ALCS for all their hard work during the year. The 2019 ALCS AGM will be held in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne next November.

Report by Caroline Sanderson, author, freelance books journalist and editor of ALCS News.

Photographs © Richard Lewis

 All the photos from this event can be found on the ALCS Facebook page.