IMCoS Annual Chairman’s Report for 2020

The IMCoS Constitution normally relates to the calendar year, thus the chairman’s report relates to the past calendar year also, as do the Annual Accounts by the Honorary Treasurer. It could be a matter of debate whether the chairman’s report should exclude the occurrences of the period between 31 December of the reporting year and the date on which the AGM is held. The later the AGM is held, the less relevant becomes the report when fairly current happenings may only be covered in the next year’s report.

I stepped down as chairman of the Executive Committee, effective 1 January 2021. My successor would normally be tasked to draw up the Chairman’s report for the 2021 AGM but 2020 was a very abnormal year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. That has disturbed and consequently altered the Society’s activities. Requesting the past chairman to prepare the report for delivery by a successor makes sense in a way although it might arguably result in an overview of his period as a chairman for many year but I will try to avoid this.

IMCoS has always enjoyed an excellent relationship with reputable map dealers, London Map Fair related or otherwise. Recognising the financial impact of the Covid pandemic on our advertisers, it was decided not to invoice them for their advertising in our March 2020 Journal.

Nevertheless, the Society remained financially stable and healthy. The annual accounts for 2020 show a profit of £361, or about one percent of our yearly turnover and commensurate with our status as a non-profit organisation.

The membership numbers are showing a slight downward trend which is to be acted upon. As the pandemic made the Executive Committee decide to hold three committee meetings as zoom meeting a saving resulted in us not having to pay for meeting facilities. It also showed that zoom meetings are both practical and effective but will not replace face to face meetings entirely. They lack the personal interaction that makes the committee tick. It has also shown that although the schedules UK event (Scotland this time) had to be cancelled after all, a replacement event on zoom would allow worldwide members to enjoy IMCoS events without travelling to London. This medium might therefore be very suitable to link all international members, more than would be possible during local events only. A number of members reported that through zoom they were able to enjoy an IMCoS event more than before due to their distance.

During 2020 many activities had to be postponed and later cancelled altogether as the pandemic did not decrease as expected. The June weekend was cancelled as were the London Map Fair, the IMCoS annual dinner, the Malcolm Young lecture and presentation of the Helen Wallis award. The 2020 June AGM was eventually held in November 2020 with a voting window over two weeks for agenda items required by the constitution. The proposal to maintain subscription rates at their then current level and the renewal of the Committee officers  tenure of office periods went smoothly with an almost unanimous vote. Later, in December, the committee decided that the chairman need not stay on longer as the committee could cope.

Regrettably the IMCoS-supported symposium in Australia had to be cancelled (initially with the intention to just postpone it) as another consequence of the pandemic. This made 2020 a ‘cartographically bare’ year indeed. It was decided that the planned Brussels Symposium would go ahead as planned. As the organisers were reluctant to bear the increased risk of Covid-19 health and travel implications, the committee decided that IMCoS would guarantee the amount of up to 5000 Euros in case the organisation in Brussels resulted in a loss. This had been done twice before in the Society’s history but in one case (after New York’s 9/11) break-even was achieved after all and in the second case the organisers decided to carry the loss without asking IMCoS for a guarantee. Currently it seems that Brussels will also be able to avoid a sizeable loss. The 5000 Euro guarantee is referred to in the 2020 annual accounts as published.

The annual Helen Wallis Award winner was selected in time for the 2020 June weekend. As the weekend had to be cancelled the winner’s name was kept secret and the Award Committee decided, in conjunction with the Executive Committee that the 2020 winner would be presented with the award in 2021. The Malcolm Young lecture was also carried over to 2021.

All four IMCoS journals for 2020 were published on schedule although home working by institutions made it difficult to obtain adequate images in time. Journal editor Ljiljana is certainly deserving of our praise.

Upon my departure as chairman it seems the society is in good hands. Our executive committee, now consisting of younger members than before, ensures that out “digital prowess” has much increased. This will allow the society to better fend off problems in this field and also permit better digital contacts with our membership be that in terms of administration, zoom-type meetings of presenting lectures of mutual interest. On a personal note I would like to thank all committee members for their excellent work and more than friendly co-operation in Society matters. It has been a pleasure to contribute and I will certainly look forward to meeting IMCoS members at future conferences, exhibitions and the like.

Hans D. Kok

Lisse, May 2021