The Ring Officers have been trying to develop some guidance which might offer a safe approach to returning to practice but a lot of this is governed by the Risk Assessments in place at specific venues, and vastly differing guidance on what distancing and other measures are in place for activity. There is no intent to "get around" current regulations, nor to endanger those more vulnerable, wittingly or otherwise.
2020 has been a non-event as far as the Morris Ring membership is concerned as a result of the social distancing measures that are in place to stem the spread of Covid-19.
This is the first time that it has happened and we the Morris Ring Officers recognise this and that there has not been the opportunity to dance out and collect whilst at the same time sides still have costs to meet.
After some hard thinking, deliberating and procrastination, we have decided to POSTPONE, rather than cancel, this year's event for the following reasons:
1) Social distance Morris, although possible, is difficult. And trying to keep a load of fools and beasts 2m apart will be impossible.
Even if restrictions are lifted by end if October, which doesn't seem that likely
2) we cannot police the audience to remain 2m apart
3) and, this was the deciding factor, the venue for accommodation, ie the Scout hut, is closed at least until next April.
So, we intend to postpone until the Spring, poss early May. AND still hold one in October 2021 too!
This year's Unconvention would have been hosted by Plymouth Morris based at the Blindmans Wood Scout Centre, 324 Outland Road, Plymouth, Devon PL3 5TB.
We know many of us can't wait to get back out dancing, playing tunes, meeting old mates and entertaining - but please, we urge you, continue to resist the temptation to do so in any breach of the "Lockdown" - both in the law and the spirit of the regulations:.
This is the latest updated advice as at 13 August (do read the Introduction in full) :
From the Squire of the Morris Ring, Peter Simpson:
The last few months have been ‘interesting’ to say the least. While we may not have been dancing there has been plenty going on. As you will have noticed one of these is the black face paint issue. So, how come we are where we are? I hope these messages answer a lot of your questions. I don’t expect they will answer all of them but please read them in full and take some time to consider what message I and the other officers are trying to convey.
Aimee Frank is a postgraduate student at the University of York who has asked us to share the following with all of our members and with other groups who may be interested in participating in research into living traditions.
They are researching and writing about the emotional and social aspects of performed traditions in the UK. Their research is an effort to bring attention to the roles which living traditions play in the lives of people and social groups, and that these are forms of heritage which deserve support. The research project is called " Searching for Soul".
Next Tuesday we at Screen Archive South East, in collaboration with our partners at the West Sussex Record Office, will make available a variety of archives, which we think will greatly interest you and your members. Through our portal, called West Sussex Unwrapped, we will present a smashing film that features an epic festival of Morris Dancing through the sleepy streets of Horsham in 1989, while the West Sussex Record Office blog will feature records, photos and historical information about Morris Dancing in West Sussex.
Any solid full face coloured make up which could be taken by an observer as likely to imitate or parody a skin colour different from your own. ‘Make up’ is used here as a general term to mean any kind of stage make up, face paint, soot, charcoal, or similar.
This matter has been under review for some years, with statements and advice to sides being issued by successive squires.
These have increasingly asked sides to consider their continued use of such face make up, the effect it has on their audience, the safety of their side members, and what alternatives could be used to achieve the same effect. Many member sides have heeded this advice and stopped using it.
The issue has however remained under constant review by the officers because although it has a complex and uncertain history, it is perceived by some as racist.
A statement from the Morris Ring in conjunction with our fellow morris organisations:
The Joint Morris Organisations (JMO) wholly condemns and disassociates themselves from the sentiments expressed in an article recently published on a nationalist website. We hope the entire morris community would join us in rejecting the divisive narrative put forward by this article.
Morris is a unique cultural tradition of which we should be rightly proud. However, we will never support a divisive narrative which seeks to put our tradition beyond certain groups.
The Morris Shop has suspended operations in the current situation.
We are aware of continuing problems receiving goods from The Morris Shop, an operation independent of The Morris Ring. Whilst much of this may be a result of the current lockdown, we are aware of more general issues and we are attempting to resolve these to the benefit of all concerned.
We are sure all of our members will be well aware of the tragic murder of George Floyd and the breadth of the protests demanding that black lives are truly valued. They are a realisation not only of anger at was has gone wrong, but they also offer an opportunity for change to be made possible.
Social media has already evidenced the concern that the vexed issue of blacking up is seen as a manifestation of part of the problem, and perhaps it is an appropriate time for us to ask again, “Does black face paint matter?”
As Squire of the Morris Ring you get to watch a lot of dancing. Most is of it is of a reasonable standard, but there are very few who ‘get it right’ as a matter of course and most clubs can improve their performances. When putting on a show involving several teams a whole new level of performance comes into play, you really are ‘putting on a show’
With this in mind, I asked Mike Garland to put together some thoughts and observations on the subject. Whether dancing on your own outside a country pub on a Tuesday night to one man and his dog or in front of several hundred people in the middle of a tourist city with 10 other teams, on a day of dance, I hope you find them of use.
The world of Morris Dancing is facing new and unprecedented challenges as a result of Covid-19. It has given me great joy to see the positive way in which the members of all three organisations have reacted to it.
Covid-19 and Lockdown have presented Simon Newman and me with a new problem. It had always been my plan to dance out at the Plymouth Ring Meeting. Unfortunately, it has had to be, understandably, postponed along with it seems every other event. So how do we deal with the change of Squire of the Morris Ring?