Northumbrian Scribes announces closure

I was very sad to hear that The Society of Northumbrian Scribes is putting pen to paper for the final time.

The organisation, which was created to promote calligraphy and to help its members enjoy it and develop their own skills, will cease to exist at the end of the year.

In a post to the group on Facebook, vice-chair Jean Carter said the decision to dissolve the group was made at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in June.

It follows the demise of another Calligraphy and Lettering Arts Society (CLAS) regional affiliated group, Oxford Scribes, in February this year.

Having existed for almost 40 years, the reason for its closure was put down to “a lack of new committee members to fill key roles”.

Costs and dwindling numbers blamed for society’s demise

The Society of Northumbrian Scribes cited several reasons for the decision to draw a line under its activities in its 35th year.

Jean’s statement, made on behalf of the committee, continued: “After over 18 months or more of uncertainties about the future of our group, we made the decision to dissolve the Society, with our last meeting being December 2023.

“There are various reasons which contribute to this sad situation and among them are simple, indisputable facts: falling membership; fewer members attending workshops; a steep rise in tutor fees (we book the best available) and our decreasing funds.

“We have explored many ideas to keep ourselves in existence, but none of them would maintain a group in the way that we would wish. We have existed exactly 35 years this year, being formed in Jarrow Hall in June 1988, all those years ago.

“It was with heavy hearts and great sadness, bearing in mind all the uncertainties, that those present at the AGM decided to dissolve the group. We shall continue to the end of the calendar year, thus honouring bookings already made for each month quite a long time ago.”

Final meeting will be a party for members and friends

Jean said the last meeting, at 10.30am on Saturday, December 2, at Jarrow Hall, will be a party and celebration of thanks for all that Northumbrian Scribes has brought to the calligraphy community throughout the last 35 years.

She added: “All members, former members, tutors and friends are invited to this, our final event.

“I know there is much sadness amongst our members and quite a number of non-members and friends around the closure of our Society, and we send you all our sincere best wishes for your calligraphic endeavours in the future.”

Northumbrian Scribes
Members of The Society of Northumbrian Scribes pictured at an exhibition launch at Jarrow Hall in 2014.

In the early days of Creative Calligraphy, I was taught by the late Susan Moor, who chaired The Society of Northumbrian Scribes, alongside several of its members and I have fond memories of those classes, so I will be attending the group’s final meeting.

Fortunately, there are still over 30 CLAS regional affiliated groups in the UK and a host of tutors running workshops independently, both in person and online.

Signing up for such a class is one way of playing an active role in keeping the calligraphy community alive. Calligraphers at all levels can also become members of organisations such as CLAS and The Society of Scribes and Illuminators.

You can also simply show calligraphy and lettering artists some love on social media. A quick search on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, Threads, Tik-Tok, Pinterest and others will bring up a treasure trove of beautiful writing.

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