On Wednesday December 12th, a group of people connected with Orb – service users, volunteers and staff – got together for one of our regular consultation meetings. Here’s a summary of some of the main items we discussed.

Our Christmas Party will take place on Friday December 12th, from 1pm to 5pm. This will be open to everyone who is connected with Orb. Soft drinks and refreshments will be provided, and anyone is welcome to make a contribution. We will hold the party in the art room/performance space, with some live performances and DJ sets along the way.

John G, our new head gardener, introduced himself and brought us up to date with activities in the Orb garden. Some new raised beds have recently been added, and there are plans to develop a wildlife area, with vegetables and herbs. Service users are encouraged to develop and maintain their own individual plots, as well as helping out with the more general public areas. The art group have recently hung some of their wire sculptures in the “hobbit hut”, and these look great when they move in the wind!

There have been two “Orb radio” podcasts this year: a pilot show in the spring, and then an hour-long broadcast from the FEVA festival. These have been well-received, so we hope to keep them coming regularly. We talked about making a podcast to tie in with the Christmas party, with recordings of some of the live performances, and some pre-recorded items too.

The three new evening classes, which started a few weeks ago, have been going well. This is Orb’s first venture into evening sessions, thanks to funding from North Yorkshire County Council’s Innovations Fund, and it also gives us an opportunity to extend our services to anyone who feels they might benefit from a mental well-being boost. The Soundsphere singers from York have been doing a great job on Monday evenings, leading the singing group through an array of songs from all over the world. Meanwhile, the Thursday field recording group have been engaged in a diverse range of activities, including recording landing geese at Staveley, popping balloons under the railway viaduct, and capturing the sounds of the firework display at Scotton. In the New Year, a new new “fusion orchestra” group will take over on Thursdays. This will be open to all abilities, including complete novices, and the players will work towards an eventual performance.

There was some discussion relating to the long-term future of the Orb premises. These are currently rented, with the lease due to expire in around 18 months time. This raises the possibility of a full purchase, followed by refurbishment and extension work. Fundraising would be key to any such initiative, and fundraising ideas will be sought. A consultant has already given positive, optimistic feedback in this area. Obviously, the landlord would need to be on-board for this to be a going concern but it’s certainly an area Orb wants to explore.

We have a new Twitter feed, @orb_arts, run by Mike. 56 followers have already been gained in the first few weeks.

Orb has recently provided sound and staging facilities for the Volunteer Oscars in Harrogate, and for the Knaresborough Remembrance Sunday service in the castle grounds. We will also be helping out with the performance stage at the Knaresborough Christmas fair, and with the Christmas Eve Nativity Play, both to take place in the Market Square.