Royal Institution - How can RSC help???

Royal Institution - How can RSC help???

Posted by John Wilkins on Jan 25, 2013 3:45 pm

I am sure that I am not alone in being appalled at the news about the Royal Institiuton's desperate financial plight. The idea of the RI having to sell its historic premises is extremely depressing .

My question is - How can the RSC help the RI?

I trust that there are high level communications taking place?

Can the RSC provide financial backing or support (loans)? Could the RSC take over the RI and merge the charities?
John

Re: Royal Institution - How can RSC help???

Posted by Chris Satterley on Jan 28, 2013 1:30 pm

John Wilkins:
I am sure that I am not alone in being appalled at the news about the Royal Institiuton's desperate financial plight. The idea of the RI having to sell its historic premises is extremely depressing .

My question is - How can the RSC help the RI?

I trust that there are high level communications taking place?

Can the RSC provide financial backing or support (loans)? Could the RSC take over the RI and merge the charities?
Hi John,

The difficulty I see is that the RI's problem stem from it's own shockingly poor financial mismanagement. Is it therefore appropriate for the RSC to be 'throwing good money after bad'? If we did help the RI out, could we be confident that it would be able to repay the RSC in the future? What changes would be made to the RI's business model to be able to sustainably support their costly mayfair premises in the future?

As for taking over the RI. Personally I don't see the value to members in the RSC taking on a very expensive piece of prime real estate in Mayfair and for the RI to have any relevance it surely cannot be 'owned' by another learned society for a particular science, unless it is owned by all of them.

Personally I think we need to be sensible and decouple the premises from the future of the RI. I really think that the ship might have sailed on the mayfair location, but this is an opportunity to reshape the RI for the 21st century and the RSC should definitely be involved in this activity.

Chris

Re: Royal Institution - How can RSC help???

Posted by John Wilkins on Jan 28, 2013 2:05 pm

Fair points Chris.

The problem for me, and for most people I imagine, is that the RI is its premises: It's impossible to conceive of the RI in a different (less prestigious?) location.  It's true that its problems seem to be due to unfortunate financial management, but to be fair, these changes were largely driven by a desire to improve access and to get rid of the "gentleman's club" image. 

To show my personal support I have just up-graded my membership status to Fellow.

The RI is such an icon of the UK's scientific heritage, it would be a terrible loss to see it go.



John

Re: Royal Institution - How can RSC help???

Posted by Chris Satterley on Jan 29, 2013 9:31 am

Hi John,

Personally for me the RI is all about its christmas lectures as I watched them every year as a child. I'd hope that these could continue in another location if the Institution had to sell its building in Mayfair.

I'm sure that the investments in the RI's premises were done for the best intentions, but I'm not so sure that excuses the lack of stewardship shown by those charge with ensuring the RI's continued existance. We are talking about a huge amount of money here (I've heard figures over £20 million) for a face-lift to create yet another event space in London. A change in management in 2010 was obviously too late and I'm not sure that the RI's headquarters are actually fit for purpose anymore.

We might be able to bail out the RI, but I think that its current location in the state that it is in might be just an albatross around the Institution's neck that will stop it from effectively doing what we all want it to do: The excellent communication of science. I'm happy to help out the RI, but not to help it keep an expensive white elephant.

Chris

Re: Royal Institution - How can RSC help???

Posted by Jon Edwards on Feb 1, 2013 2:22 pm

Hi all,

It’s sad news that the Ri, the bedrock of public engagement with science in Britain, is facing such financial difficulties. We are monitoring the situation and our chief executive, Robert Parker, released a statement on our website: http://www.rsc.org/AboutUs/News/PressReleases/2013/RSC-response-Royal-Institution-may-sell.asp
 
We recently sponsored the Christmas Lectures – in 2012 with Dr Peter Wothers – and we are currently working together with the Ri on the education legacy from the lectures. We are actively exploring how we may be able to help in kind through supporting Ri activities in the months and years ahead.

We're very interested to hear your views, and I'll be keeping an eye on this discussion.

thanks
Jon

Jon Edwards | RSC Communications Manager | twitter.com/JonSatriani

Re: Royal Institution - How can RSC help???

Posted by John Wilkins on Feb 5, 2013 2:45 pm

In my opinion, the RSC is not doing enough. A much more strongly worded public message of support is needed, followed by whatever practical assistance we can muster. Rapid concerted action with the RI support campaign is needed.

Just sitting by and wringing our hands is not good enough!  

John

Re: Royal Institution - How can RSC help???

Posted by John Wilkins on Mar 20, 2013 1:42 pm

The news that an anonymous donor has, at least temporarily, saved the Royal Institution is an enormous relief:

"Wednesday 20 March 2013. Sir Richard Sykes, Chairman of the Royal Institution (Ri) last night announced that the Ri has received a £4.4 million donation, at a special general meeting for the Institution’s members.
Sir Richard said: “This donation is very timely and will clear the Ri’s bank debt, as well as giving us the breathing room to explore other options more fully. However, our financial issues are far from being resolved.”
Members were also informed about the Future Direction Committee which has been tasked with developing a compelling new vision for the Ri based at its Albemarle Street home. Led by Prof Lord Robert Winston, the committee includes Sir Paul Nurse, Prof Brian Cox, Prof Colin Blakemore, Kim Shillinglaw and several past Christmas Lecturers.
At the meeting, members were given the opportunity to contribute their views about the future direction of the Royal Institution and discuss the Ri’s financial situation.
Summarising the meeting, Sir Richard said: “It sounds like the membership is supportive of the steps we have taken so far. We now need to unite behind a common vision that will garner the financial support necessary to secure our long-term future on Albemarle Street.”

Let's hope that the new committee can come up with a sustainable vision for the future.
John

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Re: Royal Institution - How can RSC help???

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Re: Royal Institution - How can RSC help???

Posted by Trevor Clarke on Nov 9, 2021 7:27 pm

I hope the selling and naming of lecture seats at the royal institution is a success. I am considering a donation. But £300-£5000 is a lot. The website relies on videos of lectures, there doesn't seem to be collections, library or bibliography like birbeck university does with the royal society of London . Still I have both ri and RSL newsletters.

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