Minutes of October 2017 meeting

Minutes of meeting of the Board of directors of The Autscape Organisation

Meeting date: Tuesday 24th October 2017

Meeting time: 14.00 BST

Meeting Chair: Martijn

Present: Elaine, Heta, Jenny, Jeremy, Larry, Martijn, Peter, Trish

Apologies: James

Observers: 1

Meeting opened: 14.16

The directors agreed to waive notice of this meeting.

1. Approvals

1.1  Minutes of the July 2017 meeting posted to the list on 31st July 2017.
     Deferred awaiting amendments.

1.2  The board approved the final Minutes of the August 2017 meeting posted
     to the list on 22nd October 2017 (5 For)

1.3  The board approved the final minutes of the September 2017 meeting
     posted to the list on 22 October 2017 (7 For)

2. Ratifications

No ratifications.

3. Proposals

3.1  The board considered the following two proposals relating to Autscape

3.1.1  That Autscape should pay the venue charge for the families of
       organisers to arrive early at the 2017 event, rather than passing
       this cost on to the organisers concerned. (7 For)

3.1.2  That Autscape pay the venue charge for people who turned up early on
       site for Autscape 2017 without the agreement of the organising
       committee, rather than passing the venue charge to the individuals
       concerned. (8 For)

     Elaine declared a conflict of interest re 3.1.1.

     There was some discussion around how this had happened without approval
     in advance and it was thought to be due to a communication problem. 
     There was also concern that it shouldn't happen again and the consensus
     was that this should be met by Autscape this time but some rules should
     be written into policy for the future.  This should be covered by the
     new organisation committee/events policy which is currently undergoing

4. Follow ups

4.1  Survey
     Jeremy presented a report (see Appendix A).
     Since the board hadn't had time to read this any follow ups will be on
     the list later.

4.2  Report on extending Autscape.
     James was not at the meeting and he is still looking into this.

5. Role reports

5.1  Chair (Martijn)
     Nothing to report.

5.2  Company Secretary (Elaine)
     Elaine said she would soon be starting work on the annual report. Also
     the Complaints policy is ready to go to the board list for comments.

5.3  Honorary Secretary (Elaine)
     Elaine said the main thing was that we now have meeting dates for the
     year but some people still need to vote on whether we have a Dec
     meeting and an August meeting.

     Action: Martijn to add the dates to the calendar.

5.4  Treasurer (Jeremy)
     Jeremy said that travel expense claims submitted prior to the training
     day on 18th September have been processed, and the total comes to
     £344.70, minus a refund. There are still expenses to be reclaimed for
     the cost of food for the day.

5.5  Event Manager Autscape 2017 (Kalen)
     The Honorary Secretary had asked about a report but it was not ready.

5.6  Membership Secretary (Jeremy)
     Nothing to report.

5.7  Fundraising coordinator (Jeremy)
     Jeremy said that we had recently received a payment from Give as You
     Live and he wanted to try and increase the number of registered
     subscribers. He said he would draft a message to be sent to the Members
     List, the Community List, and perhaps to Facebook.

     Action: Jeremy to draft emails for the board re Give as You Live.

5.8  Tech coordinator (Martijn)
     Nothing to report except the old/current system, it is operating
     normally and maintained as needed.

5.9  Lists coordinator (James)
     No report due to James being absent. However, it was mentioned that the
     Community list had discussed inviting a speaker to Autscape and there
     was a concern that the speaker may think this had come from the
     organisers. After a brief discussion it was decided there was nothing
     substantive to suggest there might be a problem and if one occurred it
     would be dealt with then.

5.10 Venue search coordinators (Peter and Debbie)
     Peter provided a report in advance saying he had collected together all
     the points raised by the board and had written to Tonbridge. Their main
     contact was away when he emailed but he indicated that he would prefer
     to wait for her than get a quick reply. He didn't see any of the points
     raised as being major stumbling blocks, however, even minor points need
     to be addressed if they are in the contract. The most important area
     that we need to improve is first aid training. Some of our regulars
     already have first aid training. As well as improving our own
     standards, we should also make use of this existing expertise if they
     agree. At the meeting he added that he had talked to them today and
     they had pointed out that since they use an intermediary company for
     lettings, the contract between us and the school does not qualify for
     the VAT exemption.

Any Other Business

6.1  Jenny said she thought we should give more discussion about having an
     Autscape-type event in Holland.

     Martijn said a European network of autistic-led organisations is in the
     process of being created (see Heta's report on list) and suggested that
     we wait to see if that goes anywhere first. If it does, it will give us
     some very useful contacts and resources on the continent.

Meeting closed at 15:25.

Appendix A

Summary of 2017 survey results

Hearing about Autscape

Approximately a quarter of respondents stated only that they were returning
to the event. Approximately a quarter of respondents had heard about the
event from friends. There was then an even mixture of people who had
discovered Autscape via Asperger United, social media, search engines, local
support groups, or a conversation with an Autscape organiser in a different

Action for any future survey- It would be more useful to separate returning
attendants and first-time attendants, with hope to identifying whether
trends are changing over time.

Overall feelings

Expectedly, there is a lot of information in the comments in response to the
question of " Are you pleased that you came to Autscape? Yes/No. Could you
describe what you particularly enjoyed about Autscape, or alternatively why
you regret coming. This makes it difficult to summarise.

Three people raised the issue of harassment, which followed on from a
complaint received after the conference in 2016. One person requested
feedback which the board will look into.

Paying by Installments

80% of survey respondents did not pay by installments. Feedback from people
who paid by installments was mixed- comments were left expressing
frustration with the communication and information included on the website
about the procedure.

Room features

In ranking the importance of 3 features of a room (a room for 1 person, an
en-suite room, a shared room with discount), a room for 1 person was
significantly important for many people.

Many comments were to the effect that "I couldn't come to Autscape if I had
to share a room."


As was the case in 2016, there was a notably higher attendance and reception
for "established" Autscape presenters (in particular Yo, and also as

There were no drastically poorly received presentations this year. The only
problem to have been identified was that one presenter spoke too quietly and
used unreadable slides. It was suggested that inexperienced speakers could
have guidelines for making their slides.

Action for any future survey- One participant stated that they could not
adequately rate the presentations using a basic numerical grading system, as
their responses were more "nuanced". I will consider whether to make

Organised Leisure Activities

The most highly attended and received activities were performances (the
Entertainment Evening and the Piano Recital), and the Retro Computer Museum.
Several comments suggested that the Retro Computer Museum event was
misleadingly titled, that it would have been better to advertise it as the
Retro Games-Console Museum (despite the company using the term "computer")
as there were no examples of what old computers could do besides gaming.
Despite this, the exhibit turned out to be of interest.

There were 2 poorly received activities- the disco and the Speed
Meeting/Dating. However, feedback was provided to suggest that had the Speed
Meeting/Dating event been organised so that attendants could provide
information in advance of the event, to assist with matching to other
attendants, then it could be a lot better.

Home Groups

Home Groups were well received this year.

Extending the main event

60% of respondents would like the main event to increase in length by an
extra day, 24% would prefer that it stayed at its current length, and 16%
were undecided.

Several comments were made suggesting that it could be made optional for
attendants to stay for either 3 nights or 4 nights.

Several comments expressed concern about the cost being unaffordable, or the
experience being exhausting.

A second event

90% of respondents said "yes" to the idea of a second annual event.