Enlivening our Present by Illuminating our Past


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Illuminating our Past>



<Enlivening our Present by
Illuminating our Past>



<Enlivening our Present by
Illuminating our Past>



<Enlivening our Present by
Illuminating our Past>



Executive Manager’s Report – December 2018

Well, here we are again, with another month done and now counting sleeps until Santa!

Over the last month we have of course been busy with the regular happenings – Twilight Talks, Library Collections, Meetings and regular monthly bookings of the Institute rooms by hirers have continued. Throw in a couple of book launches, Ballarat Italian Society dinner, funeral wakes, film society, Ballarat Frolic Festival, plays, performances, Ballarat Youth Ball, family celebrations, Ballarat Revival Fellowship and hosting a 3-day National Conference, there really has been plenty for our team to look after.
In all this I am constantly amazed at the amount of effort and work hours committed to the Institute. The staff who clearly do so much more than their standard hours, our fantastic volunteers, Board & Committee members and general helpers who just keep putting in – it all adds to the rich story of the BMI and what it provides to the broader Ballarat community. Well done to all.

Board Update

Your Board met on 12th November with a wide-ranging Agenda. The matters of note included:

• Update re the Max Harris Collection
• Grant Applications to attend to rectification
works in the basement
• The MIA Conference
• Monthly Financial reports and key results
• Forward planning of key tasks for the
Collections Committee, Communications,
Fundraising and Member Services
• Risk Management, including OH&S
priorities, and
• Curators Report (with details elsewhere on
this newsletter)

The Board is always keen to receive the views of Members regarding the operations of BMI, and I am happy to be the initial point of contact for any ideas, suggestions, criticisms and opportunities to do things better to communicate through to the Board.

Mechanics’ Institute Australia 2018 Conference

BMI hosted this 3-day conference in mid-November. There was a constant flurry of activity and planning over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday conference sessions, as well as the Saturday night dinner. However, amongst that activity the contribution of BMI staff, volunteers and board members was extraordinary, and ensured that our hosting and hospitality duties were carried out with class and generosity. It was very impressive by all.

Book Launches and Sales

As noted, I am aware of 2 book launches held at the BMI in recent weeks.

Firstly, the Ballarat Italian Society launched La nostra storia: the story of Italians in Ballarat at a wonderful gathering that included formalities, fellowship, food and drink (couldn’t come up with anything starting with ‘f’ for drink….).

Secondly, the Arch of Victory – Avenue of Honour Committee launched the book Avenue of Memories, authored by BMI immediate past president, Phil Roberts. Again, this was a marvelous event with approximately 300 in attendance to celebrate and recognise this work.

Both books are available for sale at the BMI for anyone who is interested – a good Christmas present even!

By the way, and speaking of Christmas presents – how great is the Pop-Up Shop for Vintage clothing and accessories? It’s a beauty! We are so fortunate to have the support of that group of volunteers, headed up so generously and enthusiastically by Geraldine Roberts. Thankyou.


Much of what we do at the BMI is resourced by volunteers. I know it is risky naming individuals, but I would like to refer particularly to the Report elsewhere in this newsletter from Marilyn Furness – our (voluntary) volunteer coordinator. Marilyn’s report mentions several important matters, and I really want to acknowledge her assistance over the last month.
Of course – don’t forget to buy some tickets ….. You have got to be in it to win it!


The City of Ballarat has positioned its ‘Subterranean Ballarat’ as an important tourism and business development strategy. We need to be constantly looking to how we might link in with broader strategies such as this to get the best opportunities for funding support, and the BMI Basement offers so much in this regard. The Board is working on funding strategies / grants to address the pressing need for rectification works – mould, ventilation, access and water ingress. We appreciate the professional assistance from Wendy Jacobs, Architect and Heritage Consultant in this work, and I would especially acknowledge the attention to this current project by Board Members Mike Stephens and Ross Furness.

David Dahelnburg – Venue Manager

I noted last month that David has advised the Board of his decision to retire as from January 2019. We have put in place a recruitment and selection process to fill this role, with the Board represented by Jane Valpied and Ross Furness to work with me to shortlist, interview and appoint to this role.

On behalf of all connected to the BMI I would like to thank David for his skill, commitment, generosity and his genuine care for the Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute. His contribution to the BMI story has been significant. I would also like to acknowledge Gerardine and her many, many levels of involvement and assistance alongside David. The BMI certainly locked in a ‘buy one, get one free’ with David and Gerardine, and we are very aware and appreciative of that.

End of Year function

Let’s get together and celebrate the end of another year!

Rather than personalised invitations, the Board would like to host an end of year function to all who have assisted the BMI in any way over this year – volunteers, members, staff, friends, associates….. and especially Collingwood supporters!

Come along on Monday 10th December from 5.00 to 6.45pm to join the crew. If you are, and feel you can (but certainly no expectation), it would be great to bring along some food or treats to share with everyone. There will be drinks, a chance to catch up, plus Sing Australia leading us in some carols.

Library Closure for Christmas and New Year

This may be mentioned elsewhere, but just to note that the BMI Library will close Friday December 21st, and then reopen Wednesday January 2nd.

I will also be away from December 21st, and at this stage plan to return on Tuesday January 8th. As our world seems to get busier, more complex and detached, I wish everyone peace, joy, and connection over this Christmas.