Resignations at the Royal Society

Resignations at the Royal Society


norman lebrecht

February 05, 2020

Nothing to do with Harry and Meghan, but we hear the Royal Society of Musicians is in turmoil.

Recent resignations include Phoebe Fullbrook, Membership Secretary, Penny Ryan, Administrative advisor, George Vass, Treasurer and Corinne Littlehales, the popular Caseworker.

In addition, after last night’s meeting, ‘Hazel Mulligan has resigned as Governor. This is because Hazel is not happy with the direction that the RSM is heading in.’

And the composer Robert Saxton has resigned as Member of the Court of Assistants.

The RSM exists ‘to provide vital financial assistance, advice and guidance to those professionally active in the world of music but who are unable to work due to accident, illness or old age.’

Not a pack of happy campers.



  • We privatize your value says:

    Mr. Lebrecht, still nothing on the death of the great German composer, Volker David Kirchner? He composed the greatest Reguiem since Brahms and the greatest concert mass (the Missa Moguntina) since Beethoven (speaking only of German composers).

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    I am a firm believer in the continuation of the royal family in Britain (not necessarily in Australia), but perhaps we are expecting too much virtue from its members. In an age of intrusive media they cannot live up to it. The royal family can do much good, as well as adding much needed colour to Britain, as long as we turn a blind eye to their more human qualities.

    • SVM says:

      The royal family are the biggest scroungers in the UK, living a life of enormous luxury at the expense of taxpayers and the Crown Estate (which, contrary to what a lot of propaganda would have you believe, belongs to the nation, *not* to the Windsor family). The senior royals also have enormous influence over and access to the levers of political power (e.g.: the use of royal prerogative to prorogue parliament illegally in September 2019); the precise manner in which such unaccountable and undeserved power is exercised is impossible to ascertain, since the meetings and correspondence between them and government ministers are secret and exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

      I am not willing to “turn a blind eye to” these abuses of democracy and meritocracy that have persisted into the present day, funded by my taxes; I want a republic.

      There are plenty of people who “do much good, as well as adding much needed colour to Britain”, without having had arbitrary hereditary privileges and lavish financial support conferred upon them by the state.

  • will says:

    if the RS has ‘money problems’, it must surely be because of their absurdly cheap annual subscription of only £5, yes FIVE pounds!

  • pageturner says:

    It sounds like a race to the bottom at the RS…

  • I'm a nice person really... says:

    The Royal Society of Musicians is a disgrace and should be investigated by the charity commission.[redacted]

    The RSM is a lifestyle vehicle for a tiny group of people to sit around indulging themselves in a Georgian mansion in Fitzroy Square. Anyone who glances through their annual report on the Charity Commission can see just how idle they are. They are sitting on £32M of assets, giving away a few hundred thousand pounds in grants to an unidentified group of musicians through a system that is opaque at best.

    Why on earth does this society need to spend millions of pounds purchasing and redecorating super-prime real-estate in the heart of London so they can host some tea parties?


    • christopher storey says:

      It is clear that “Nice person” knows little if anything about charity accounts. The grants handed out are plainly governed by the RSM income , and commensurate with it . The trustees would arguably be negligent if they were to liquidate the long term investments to fund day-to -day grants or other expenditure. Finally, the £32 million of assets is quite substantially the recent result of a one-off donation or donations of c.£9 million made in 2015, as would have been seen from the accounts had NP bothered to look

      • Fitzroy Square says:

        The £9 million received in 2015 was generated by the sale of a property in Stratford Place, not through donations.

        The Society’s objects are (solely) ‘the relief of poverty and sickness among professional musicians, former professional musicians, those aspiring to careers as professional musicians, and their families’.

        The Society has assets of £32m to deploy in furthering these objects.

        If invested professionally in a similar way to other large charitable portfolios one would expect to see annual income of c.£1.3m from a portfolio of this value to be spent on grant-giving. And yet grants in recent years have ranged from just £386k-£466k.

        Why are they using such a small percentage of their total assets to generate income to further their sole charitable aim? What is the rest of their money being used for? Why have they invested such a large proportion of their total assets in a reputedly magnificent central London property which generates very little income relative to its value and does – I’m afraid – appear to be something of a vanity project? What contribution does this property make to the Charity’s mission?

        There are many questions to be answered here by the trustees.

        • RSM Member says:

          I agree with Fitzroy Square. A group of us disheartened Members no longer attend Meetings because we believe that any questions the Trustees should answer are whitewashed in dishonesty by those at the top.
          We were told that the expensive Fitzroy Square was chosen so that income could be gained from high-paying residential tenants. However, one reason given for leaving Stratford Place was that the Secretary was spending too much time dealing with tenants. By down-sizing, this would solve the problem. In the meantime, the Secretary self-promoted herself to CEO, and surprise-surprise, Fitzroy Square has tenants. Yet, the ‘busy’ CEO is now requesting and assistant to deal with the tenants, in the form of an administrator.
          Another reason given why Stratford Place needed to be sold was lack of access for the disabled. This listed building had not been granted planning permission to install a lift. Yet, Fitzroy Square is also a listed building, and was also not granted planning permission to install a lift. With my knee problem I can access the meeting room on the ground floor, but I cannot reach the RSM office on the first floor, nor visit the archives. At best I have been offered a portable stair lift which is not allowed to remain in situ because the building is listed, and in any case the staircase is too narrow. Bearing in mind whom the Society seeks to serve, the choice of new building brings many questions to answer, as do infinite other matters.