The annual Anniversary Meeting of the Society was held on Thursday 18 May at 5.30pm. Fellows received and considered the Report and Accounts for 2022 (Access Here).
The meeting was well attended in person and by zoom.
In her report, the Hon Treasurer, Mrs E Robb, underscored that financial challenges the Society had faced during the COVID pandemic, with market fluctuations having an impact on the investment portfolio and the drop in revenues from letting rooms. However, both income and expenditure had increased and there was a gradual return to normal during the year. Looking ahead through 2023-24 there would be exceptional expenditure for events and publications marking the Society’s 200th Anniversary, but these had been planned and accounted for.
A slight decline in the net revenue received from the Journal is anticipated, though the agreement of a new five-year contract with CUP (effective 1 January 2024) gives welcome stability to this source of income. Similarly, the proportion of income derived from Fellows’ subscriptions is also subject to slight decline. Maintenance costs continue to rise, and inflation will have an impact on both income and expenditure. For some years the Society’s activities have increased within exceedingly constrained budgets. The Financial Statements in the Report show that the Society’s fundamental economic position continues to be strong but will need careful oversight.
In keeping with the Society’s bye-laws, a review of providers of external services is proposed for audit (2023/4) and financial services (2024/5).
Mrs Robb payed tribute to the Director and her team for their outstanding management of the Society’s complex affairs.
In her Presidential Address, Professor Ansari acknowledged the excellent support provided by the staff, fellow Council and Committee members, and thanked especially Mr Derek Davis and Dr Norbert Peabody whose current terms on the Council have come to an end.
Professor Ansari drew attention to the substance of the Report, which outlined the greatly increased level of activity on all fronts as the baleful effects of the pandemic lessened. There had been much catching up – with postponed celebrations for the award of the Society’s medals and prizes, postponed lectures and book launches, and recognition of new donations to the Society. Special mention was made of Derek Davis’ translation of Pushkin’s A Journey to Arzrum during the 1829 Campaign which had been published as a Supplement to the Journal, and to the festschrift in honour of Barbara Brend which was published (with colour illustrations) as an enlarged part 4 of JRAS 2022.
Electronic technologies had meant that access to the Society and its collections had been maintained throughout the pandemic. This continued on an enhanced scale as users became used to (and expect) to find information in this way. And there had also been a return to in-person use of the Library and at lectures and events. Progress continued with conservation projects and with growing the digital library – made possible by support from a variety of partners. Publication of RAS monographs flourished (especially with Edinburgh University Press and in the Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt series). Events to mark the bicentenary had been trailed during 2022 and begun in force in January 2023 with the presentation (from Professor Michael Loewe) of a set of the First Edition of the Works of Sir William Jones.
The Society is particularly grateful to numerous volunteers who work in the library and with the archives. A glimpse into the value of this work comes to the fore at the annual Library and Archives Evening, in entries to catalogues (national as well as the Society’s own), and in other presentations.
In recognition of more than twenty years of such service, the President had pleasure in presenting Mr Roger Parsons with Life membership of the Society.
The newly established bi-centenary medal was presented to the Vice President, Dr Gordon Johnson, for services to the Society over a number of years, in particular as chair of the 2023 Committee.
Dr Weipin Tsai and Professor Susan Whitfield were elected to serve on the Council until the AGM 2027.
After the formal meeting closed, refreshments were served and were followed at 6.30pm by an informal talk The RAS at 200 given by the Vice President.
– Dr Gordon Johnson (RAS Vice President)