Marsh Award for International Arts Society Committee of the Year

This Award was set up to recognise the collective and voluntary achievements of committee members who have established and driven the activities of the societies internationally, through great dedication and creative ways of engaging with members of the community.

Nominations for the Award are put forward by local societies and are judged by a panel consisting of Arts Society and MCT representatives.

Pat Pledger, Arts Society Hamburg 2022

Pat Pledger has been Chair of The Arts Society Hamburg for 9 years. In that time, besides running her own business, she has worked tirelessly for the society. She was the driving force behind the Church Recording Programme, at the Anglican Church of St Thomas Becket. She has organised outings and trips inside and outside Germany, the last of these before the pandemic to Malaga and Northumbria. She has introduced Mailchimp to professionalise communication within the society, promotes the society via social media and has modernised the website.  


She has – with the help of the Mainland Europe Support Team – organised lectures online via Zoom from the beginning of the pandemic. For many elderly members, coping with the technical side of things was a problem. However, Pat coached them individually thus ensuring that the lectures were available to everyone who wanted to attend. In fact, attendance was up by comparison to the society’s last face-to-face lectures, with some members who had decided to resign as they no longer felt able to go out in the evening sustaining their membership after all.  


Her latest innovation is an online Members’ Forum, run around once every 3 months to bring members together in this difficult time. After a 30-minute lecture given by local artists, members have the opportunity for discussion. Over more than a year the main topic of discussion has been the future of the society and the struggles with recruiting new members to combat the increasing age of existing members. Sadly, these numbers are still in decline despite Pat’s best efforts and, without her support, the society would likely cease to exist. 

Previous Winners

ADFAS Newcastle

ADFAS Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia was formed in 1989 and now has a membership of 200 each year. ADFAS has helped to preserve their national artistic heritage and have engaged in identifying and researching buildings in their local area to enhance understanding of the community role of the Schools of Arts movement. In the last 3 years 9 Schools of Arts Projects have been completed and 3 more are in the pipeline. In 2020, AFSAS also granted 5 groups an award total of $5000. The group has also helped with church recording at the St John’s Anglican Church which is the oldest remaining church building in Newcastle.  

Arts Society Nerja

Helen Sijslinghas been a committee member of the Arts Society Nerja for 12 years, and the Chairman for 4 years. She has halted the declining memberships and has made a huge contribution across schools and with local youths, liaising with local business and organising trips to promote the Society within the local community.

Arts Society Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

There are 8 Arts Societies in New Zealand, who each take on a two year coordination role for visiting lecturers, managing the whole process from selection to expenses while the lecturer is on their visit. The Hawkes Bay society are the current national coordinating society for 2018-2019 and have made a significant improvement to the systems and processes, making the Arts Society throughout New Zealand a lot stronger and more viable.

This committee have worked collaboratively with other societies in New Zealand to reduce costs of visiting lecturers and have streamlined the processes involved to make the running of the organisations easier and smoother for all involved. The Hawkes Bay Society were the first in the country to rebrand and have produced a detailed guide for the other societies to follow in due course. Their work has been described by other committees in the country as “a win-win for all”.