The founding National Association of Morris and Sword Dance Clubs

The Constitution Commission - a statement from Simon Newman, Squire of the Morris Ring

The Constitution Commission - a statement from Simon Newman, Squire of the Morris Ring

Statement from the Squire 

Thank you to those who have engaged in the discussion regarding the proposed changes to the constitution.  A number of points have been made and have been reflected upon. Considerable time has been taken by a number of members to offer alternative proposals and amendments for which I am thankful.

It is clear that the proposals in their current form are not suitable, for this reason the officers and the team who agreed to support them have decided to withdraw them. The ARM will still go ahead as planned on March 6th 2021. During this ARM a discussion will take place about the use of black face paint in performance, members who wish to discuss the matter will need to follow the procedures as indicated in the instructions sent out by the Bagman.    

Going Forward

After considerable reflection based on the feedback received it is evident that there is a need and a desire to have a constitution that reflects the society we operate within.  

Over the last decade or so the Morris Ring has been engaged in numerous divisive discussions, whether allowing women to join as musicians to more recently as dancers. The current topic is of course ‘black face’. What these episodes demonstrate is that the Ring constitution only allows the association to react to social changes as they present, leading to discussions on constitutional changes that are for the most part reactionary. The Ring needs a constitution that can pre-empt social and political change, allowing our members to adapt and overcome changes as they occur within society, allowing us to get on with what we actually want to do, and that is perform.

Potential problems for the Ring going forward may include: 

  • Accusations of discrimination based on gender identify e.g. transsexuals objecting to men dressing up as women.
  • Accusations of members looking for loopholes in government restrictions designed to keep us safe e.g. COVID
  • Accusations of discrimination based on ethnicity e.g. blackface
  • Accusations of discrimination based on disability        

 Squire’s Commission 

The examples above demonstrate some of the issues the Ring may face in the future, I am sure many of you can think of more. The question here is whether the constitution in its current format will enable the association to continue its practice without the need for further divisive discussion and continual constitutional adaptions.  For this reason, I would like to invite those who are willing, to form a commission with the intent to explore the current constitution, highlight any potential pitfalls and work together to ensure that the constitution will be lasting for the next generation of performers.  

Aims of the Commission:

  • Ensure the Morris Ring Objectives and Core values are upheld
  • Ensure the Morris Ring operates lawfully as an association and that any relevant documentation is shared with members enabling them to do so.
  • Ensure the Morris Ring as an association has the appropriate safeguards in place to protect itself, its officers and its members from prosecution or external forces that may bring it into disrepute e.g. claims of public liability; claims of harassment; claims of discriminatory practice.     

Potential questions for the constitution:

  • Do all the definitions make sense, is the language explicit in its meaning or vague? Is the language accessible to members with either learning or language difficulties? 
  • Do all the subheadings describe the clauses beneath them? 
  • Are the procedures explicit e.g. who can make proposals? 
  • Are the procedures appropriate? 

Outcome of the Commission: The commission will be asked to produce a report no later than four months before the 2022 ARM. This will enable any recommendations that may arise to be shared with the members in accordance with the three month notice period required.   

If you would be willing to participate in this process then please express your interest by emailing me at: simon [dot] r [dot] newman [at] gmail [dot] com 

Thank You 

Simon Newman

Squire of The Morris Ring.