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Follow up to 'Message to Members' (Sent to all Members in December 2020) by Chair of Membership, Dick Bateman

Survey period: From 20th December 2020 to 5th February 2021

Summary:                        Members’ views on current BRLSI issues.

at 25.03.2021                        These views will be taken into account before any decisions are made.

                                         Many thanks to those who have contributed, much appreciated.


Conclusions  by Dick Bateman  Chair of Membership 25.03.2021

1. Almost all respondents accepted a rise in Membership fees.

2. A large majority supported charging Visitors for entry, Digital Memberships and live events in the afternoons after re-opening.

3. A sizeable minority (over 36%) supported the other issues, with less than 10% against.



For tally

Against tally






1.Raising Membership fees

+++++ +++++

+++++  +++++

+++++  +++++



- - -





* Depends on ‘Offer’.

* You don't say in your note what the precise problem is: it's clear from your Charity Commission returns that expenditure is consistently exceeding income, but you don't say what is the cause: a decline in membership income, a shortfall in other income, an unforeseen increase in costs, something else entirely? You obviously increased income hugely between 18/19 and 19/20, such that you would have been back in the black if expenditure had increased by no more than the past trend line; but it too, went up enormously in 19/20. But you haven't shared with us what the problems are. But no doubt your finance committee is pondering all this

* If you don’t mind me saying so, this problem is exacerbated by the fact that the membership fee has been kept the same for so long. This is always a bad idea, because there is always a time of reckoning when it has to go up! much better to increase by a very small amount every year.)

* Yes but not until VAT is taken off and not until we switch to Direct Debit

*  A good idea. Do you have projections of the amount you expect to raise?

[Ed: Approximately an additional £3,600 on current total of £18,000]

* Content to pay £30

*I would only question why life is so low. I’d set this at between £600 and £750

* Yes - membership fees should be raised across the all areas - as an individual I would be content to pay £50. However, as you indicate the joining system requires a radical overhaul, linked to positive benefits and BRLSI priorities.


2.Towards Dir Deb / Bank Trans

+++++ +++++

+++++ ++++



- -




* A good idea. I recently set up such an arrangement for another organisation, and we linked GoCardless to our bank account for direct debits. They offer a way to link from our website directly to the DD set up screen and notify us every time anyone uses it.

* Awkward dilemma of whether someone who has actually paid £25 but should now pay £30 should have membership rights withdrawn

* Not bank transfer – allows criminals to . . divert money into their accounts

3 ‘Member Get Member’

+++++ +++++




- - -




* bit of a nuisance for the administrator but can be accommodated in GoCardless system unless the first member gets so many new people that his sub goes negative. Might have to think about that!  And existing people could opt out if they wanted to get a new member but didn’t want the discount.

*Too administratively complicated

* Suggest 2 free entrance tickets to meetings - not a £10 discount




4.Charging for Entry Non-Memb

+++++ +++++

+++++ ++



- - - - -  - - - - -

- - -



* Might put off visitors to paid-for exhibitions JB

Eg Non-members paying £10 for lectures, members nothing.JV  

* This would be a shame. I think some people drop in just on spec, and then get engaged. Any level of entrance payment will reduce that.

*Not for Reception area (and shop)

* You might get more donations if you have an unmanned contactless terminal, as I've seen in London museums: ["Touch here to donate £5”, or whatever]. The ones I recall are pre-set to take a specific amount- no doubt there are variants that enable the giver to choose. We are all getting much more used to contactless card use, and it somehow doesn't feel like spending money- I suspect we are more likely to do it on a whim.

(This seems to me to be counter-productive – i believe that entry to at least the brlsi ground floor should be free so that people can see what they would get if they joined. This would be especially the case if a coffee shop/café were installed. Entry to exhibitions that were more extensive than most would be a possibility but i can’t see that this

*Would raise more money than it would cost to collect). Charging entry to exhibitions does seem like an option, but do we actually have the room to mount exhibitions that are sufficently extensive to justify

*Why not charge more (say £60 and get into events free)

*  Against this suggestion. We should try harder to sell publications, book marks and anything else that comes up with an exhibition. At the moment, how much is raised from donations and buying booklets ?

*As Chairman of The Bath Society of Botanical Artists and member of BRLSI, I

Charging for Entry to BRLSI for Non-Members: As a Society, we would strongly object to visitors to our exhibitions at BRLSI being charged an entry fee.  We pay to hire the exhibition space (nearly

     £2000 for our last three week exhibition in October 2019), and we think an entry fee for visitors to an exhibition would be a great deterrent to their coming into BRLSI. We conducted a survey of visitors to our exhibition in October 2017 and found that about 50% of them had  just been passing and seen the advertising banner on the railings outside.     Free entry we believe to be a great incentive to members of the public to come in to see an exhibition and we have found that people often make a return visit when they realise how much there is to see.  Even a small entry fee might be a deterrent and would certainly be a deterrent for a family of several members.  We hope the exhibition space would not be reduced in size as we find it excellent as it is at present.

*A disincentive. Why not give every visitor an application form instead.

*Charging for entry to exhibitions is made easy by contactless cards.  Inviting contributions not easy because not enough people carry cash these days.




5. Setting up Virtual Members

+++++ +++++

+++++ +++++




- - -





It would depend on us continuing the possibility of Zoom events in combination with live events when these are resumed. DC World-wide membership would need world-wide publicity. DC

* (I am against this – i think that the free-to-view videos on the virtual Brlsi youtube channel are an important way in which the brlsi can build Its brand further afield than in bath. They also carry an appeal for Donations which has been a useful source of income in the past year. This income would obviously be damaged by the proposal to limit access. These video files are an excellent advertisement for the Institution and their presence on youtube is also an additional benefit for the speakers who give their services to the brlsi for nothing. Let’s Not do this! Instead, i would advise potential members that Virtual BRLSI Membership is a benefit that they will get when they join the institution.)

* I would not start this until BRSLE reopens otherwise you could lose income with people going virtual and not paying their full Membership fee.

* Good Idea, especially if it meant we did not have to have ticket-booking functionality on our new website.

* Only for those more than 20 miles outside of Bath

* What are the projections if charge £15 + members’ rate, (+£3250)

or don’t charge £15 and charge non member rates? (As now)

* do existing membership grades receive digital access (YES) or is this extra?  Many publications charge extra for digital access.

+Virtual lectures and BRLSI Utube channel has been a triumph and must think creatively as to how best monetarise this. The suggestions muted seem a good way of feeling a way forward.

+Yes, this certainly a new avenue and the charge is OK, if membership fees were raised suggest £20. This avenue offers many opportunities to create a young BRISLI base, at different levels, for example  - School, FE, University, Researchers, etc.

6. Investigating a café

+++++ +++++





- - - 





* If stylish. Would need to have good quality coffee and cakes (I mean barista style machine and coffee) so quite an investment. Someone like Society Café or Mokoko might be interested in a franchise arrangement. Best chance of success is if this is integrated with live afternoon events - is that feasible?

* All in favour of café and daytime events.  Event at 4pm, coffee and sandwich at 6pm, talk at 7:30 – just the job.

* Sounds a great idea - could be developed in partnership with a local entrepreneur or perhaps Bath College catering school.

* Worth a trial run . . .

* Lots of local café shops – too much competition

* Trail Plinths by the southern wall could get in the way of coffee tables

*Cheap and cheerful – tea and cake run by volunteers?

*Check commercial prospects first

*if a Cafe emerges it needs have natural light.

7. A permanent Museum room

+++++ +++++






- -






* Permanent Museum room and rotating artefacts from Collection would justify BRLSI’s ‘museum’ status.  ++++

*Permanent Museum display space. Having a permanent Museum room separate from the exhibition space, both downstairs, to show off a rotating selection of artifacts from our Collections. An excellent idea - even a display cabinet in a new BRLSI cafe could be a good start.

 Not a good idea - see Fourth Street Consultants’ report.  They were absolutely clear that is NOT a good idea             

 [Ed.: I do not think this is the case. Fourth Street wrote against a permanent Museum – but were not against one with regularly changing artifacts  D.B.]

8. Live afternoon Events

+++++ +++++

+++++ +++











* Practical sessions on how to use your IPhone/iPad, cookery demo, chess sessions, and even yoga! 

*Not sure about live afternoon events – although sounds fun idea, could be noisy or distracting.

* Indeed, there used to be weekly music talks at 11am in the crypt of St Georges Bristol, and lunchtime recitals in three different locations, and they attracted a decent following).

*Yes I like this idea too, Could see myself walking from my Mandarin lesson across Bath for afternoon music at BRLSI




* [From a Bristol Member] If you need more members, what if anything do you do to advertise yourselves to Bristolians? I think I became aware of you through the late lamented listings magazine Venue; if I'd arrived in Bristol after its demise, I would probably not know you exist!

* Need to have all these innovations in place before you can do any of it.

*Just as an aside, I received feedback from a potential donor who read this questionnaire and said that they were very disappointed at how ‘tactically’ we were thinking in BRLSI. They felt we had missed an opportunity to set this questionnaire into a wider context and reinforce our positive longer term vision and our continuing commitment to this.  The impression given is that we are a members’ club worrying about our finances.

*Ref potential for BRISLI to have a rented external space immediately opposite in Queen Square. B&NES might show an interest in a scheme designed for community out reach.































































































































































































Terms of Membership


We know you will find BRLSI a welcoming, fun and stimulating place. Here are the Terms of Membership which are helping to shape our development. They include the Objects of our Articles of Association and the BRLSI Code of Conduct.



The ‘Objects’ of BRLSI’s Articles of Association  set up in 1993, when BRLSI was relaunched. The full Articles of Association can be found at    ]


Objects of BRLSI Articles of Association


The promotion and advancement, for the public benefit, of science, literature and art in the City of Bath and its surrounding areas by such means as the Directors of the Company think fit, including, but not limited to:

• The provision and maintenance of a museum in or near the City of Bath for the display of exhibits of historical, scientific, literary, or artistic significance or interest

• The provision of a library, lectures and other facilities for education relating to literature, science and art

• The promotion of research relating to literature, science and art and the publication of the useful results of that research.

Article 6.2 in The Articles has direct relevance to new Members. It says:

“The Members of the Company (BRLSI) shall be any person who is interested in the Objects, pays the subscription and/or entrance fee set by the Directors, and is approved by the Directors.”


                                                 BRLSI Code of Conduct         [Set up in 2020 to reinforce respect for all]


All BRLSI Directors, staff, members and volunteers should create and maintain a welcoming, respectful and supportive atmosphere within the Institution.  Personal interactions should be respectful and polite.

It should be recognised how others might feel if they are not treated with respect and they should be encouraged to express their concerns if they feel any unease.

Some behaviours that might be considered as unsupportive are using an abrupt tone in emails, especially if anyone else is copied in as a recipient; raising one’s voice in discussions and interrupting before a person has finished the point they are making.

Any instances of behaviour that lack respect, or which might be considered to be coercive, should be reported in writing to BRLSI Chair of Management, who in the first instance, will have an informal talk with both parties to avoid any escalation. Subsequently, should it be considered necessary, a formal meeting will be held in accordance with the relevant Policy.

Dick Bateman BRLSI Chair of Membership, for BRLSI Management Committee, 20.03.2021