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A short post today as it’s a big day for all of us at the RSA. Tonight is the Society’s AGM. This is a chance to talk to Fellows about the year gone past and the period to come. But, arising from the RSA Governance review, it will also see a debate, voting and the final result of motions (both for and against Trustee recommendations).

One of the joys of the RSA Fellowship is that it is a broad church encompassing different backgrounds, professions, interests and values. So there are many opinions to hear. We have conducted a recent Fellows’ survey and are doing a larger scale one later in the year. But while it is important that Trustees and staff respond to the views of the Fellowship as a whole, it is never going to be possible to satisfy every strand of opinion. That is why tonight is so significant.  

Although I’m sure the turnout will be modest, when Electoral Reform Services finally reveal the combined result of the postal vote and tonight’s poll, my own hope is that the Society gets a clear and definitive message about Fellows’ views. There is so much to celebrate in our work (for example, the latest figures put us at nudging fifty million on-line views of RSA lectures), but unless the stewardship of the Society is satisfactory to Fellows as a whole there is always a danger that discussion of governance issues distracts us from our core charitable mission.  

Whenever anyone makes a case – whether it’s positive or negative - we tend to argue that we are speaking for lots of other people. So we say ‘you must see this film; everyone think it’s great’ or we tell the poor call centre worker ‘all your customers think your broadband service is totally useless’.  But once in a while there comes a chance to really find out how widespread concerns are or how solid support is. It is always likely that the annoyed are more motivated to turn out than the satisfied, but unless we adopt compulsory voting Australia-style that’s just the nature of this kind of process.

Whatever happens tonight, it doesn’t mean anyone will stop arguing their cause, but it does at least make it clearer who will be speaking on behalf of the broader Fellowship. As staff do their hard working best to give Fellows the services, resources and support they want this knowledge is vital.

By the way, if you are a Fellow and want to come tonight, listen to the debate and make up your own mind, all FRSAs are welcome (whether or not you have already voted). The AGM is in the Great Room at 5.00 but please bring your Fellowship card.

You can read all the papers for the AGM including statements for all the motions here.


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