Sunday, March 1, 2020

Dante Auckland AGM 2020, President's Report

Dante Auckland Committee, from left: Stefania Perrotta, Sir John Kirwan, Matteo Telara, Flavia Berucci, Fiorella Tomasi Lady Kirwan, Cav. Sandra Fresia, Cav. Alessandra Zecchini, Jackie Shearman, Valeria Santillo. Missing: Luca Manghi and Kelly McKinnon)

Cari amici e soci Dante Auckland,

Welcome to our 2020 AGM. It is a joy to see you all here today.

As always, I would like to start my President's report by acknowledging my colleagues from the Dante committee, who are truly dedicated to our Society and run it with passion and love. Secondly, I would like to thank all our members who support us every year, attend our events (and often volunteer with enthusiasm and great energy), and generally help us spread Italian culture and lifestyle in New Zealand. Thank you also to all our language students for having chosen our school to learn Italian.

2019 was another busy year for the Dante, rich with events like the wonderful musical Aggiungi un Posto a Tavola, directed by Matteo Telara and Luca Manghi, which featured professional singers as well as our own Dante students. The Dante in Rome generously contributed toward the cost of this production. 

We also had another successful Italian Festival Season full of events and celebrations of everything Italian, which ended with a truly epic Festival Italiano, the biggest and best to date. Thank you again to our three major sponsors who made the Festival possible: the Waitematā Local Board, Peroni, and Newmarket Business Association, and supporting sponsors Ghella, the Italian Tourist Board of Australia and New Zealand, Aperol NZ, and the Italian Embassy. To be acknowledged also are the dozens of other sponsors, big and small, old and new, and the many volunteers and staff who worked with Festival Director Alessandra Zecchini. 

We finished the year with our yearly Mercatino di Natale, which is now a well-established event, and started 2020 with another successful Intensive language course, led by Sandra Fresia. 

Other events during the year included book presentations, our monthly colazione, free concerts, lectures and movie screenings run in collaboration with other organisations, including the Italian Embassy and the University of Auckland. All of these activities are advertised, and reviewed afterward, in our monthly newsletter, curated by Stefania Perrotta, and through our social media accounts, which are steadily growing in followers and popularity.
Due to work and travel commitments last year I couldn't participate in many of these events, so I would like to thank my Vice President, Flavia Berucci, for stepping in to fill my shoes when needed. I hear that she has now become very good at public speeches!

To sum it up 2019 has been a good year for activities and, as our treasurer Valeria Santillo will confirm shortly in the Treasurer’s Report, also financially: we had an increase in our membership numbers and we were able to offer more language classes.

With this thought the committee has decided not to increase the membership fees for yet another year, so that everyone can easily afford to belong to the Dante Society and enjoy a taste of Italy here in New Zealand. 

I would like to conclude my report with a thought for those who are suffering because of the Coronavirus. Although at present we are safe in New Zealand with only one case reported so far, many of us are worried about family and friends, may not be able to travel as planned, and may also be starting to feel the ripples of the economic effects from the lockdowns in Italy. We hope for the outbreak, back at home and elsewhere in the world, to be contained as soon as possible, and for those who are sick to get better soon.  

Sir John Kirwan
KNZM MBE           
Dante Alighieri Society of Auckland

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