Nearly a year on from the publication of the Masonic Halls Centres of Excellence Guidance Manual, Grand Superintendent of Works John Pagella explains why those managing masonic halls and centres find it useful
Judging from the warm welcome and positive response that I and others on the Masonic Halls Steering Group have received when visiting Provinces to speak to trustees and directors of management companies, many have found the Masonic Halls Centres of Excellence Guidance Manual a welcome and long-overdue initiative.
Unlike the Book of Constitutions, there is no question of compliance. The manual is simply combining the knowledge of many Freemasons across the country who are willing to share experience of best practice in a single document, while pointing to ways of avoiding some of the problems that have arisen in the past.
I cannot emphasise too strongly that ‘guidance’ does not mean recommending or imposing answers. The manual encourages awareness – things to have in mind as issues are discussed. It also points to processes that, if followed, are most likely to lead to good and informed decisions about the best way forward.
OPEN TO UPDATES
The manual is a ‘live document’, and updates covering ownership and insurance have already been added to the original version, with further updates to follow. The general law constantly changes, and new regulations frequently follow. Experience can provide useful lessons, and we always welcome comments and suggested changes or additions from anyone who believes that something is missing, or that the content needs updating.
We are currently examining ways of using available data to predict future demand by lodges and other masonic units on masonic halls and centres. From this, we can anticipate how existing buildings may need to be adapted, and then offer relevant guidance. In some cases, relocation may be the answer; the design principles reflected in successful new builds are also being reviewed.
IN SEARCH OF EXPERTISE
At a local level, we are looking at hall-hire and catering agreements. Informal arrangements covering both of these areas can work, but they carry hidden dangers should things go wrong. We’ve recently received a very simple form of catering agreement, but at this stage we have no way of knowing if it’s being widely used. Careful reading suggests that it will work as long as the relationship between the masonic hall and its caterer is working well, but there is concern that it could lead to problems should difficulties arise.
You can help
‘Experience can provide useful lessons, and we always welcome comments and suggested changes or additions from anyone who believes that something is missing, or that the content needs updating’