A while back I wrote about the imminent demise of Britain’s Royal Institution, a historic venue for research and the dissemination of science to the public. Because of financial difficulties, the Royal’s building in Mayfair was up for sale. Seeing what a disaster this would be, I urged readers to sign a petitions and spread the word.
I take no credit at all for the favorable outcome, which is due almost entirely to the campaigns of bigwigs like Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto, but I’m still enormously chuffed to report that, according to The Guardian, the royal has been saved—for the nonce:
The Royal Institution has been bailed out of a cash crisis that threatened to force the organisation from its Mayfair home. Sir Richard Sykes, chairman of the 200-year-old institution, said it had received a donation of £4.4m that would clear its debts and give the board time to develop a fresh strategy to finance the charity.
The cash from an anonymous foundation will pay off the RI’s immediate loan and overdraft which had to be settled by March. The loan was secured against the RI’s premises, an imposing £60m grade I-listed building in Mayfair.
I don’t know who the anonymous donors were, but thank Ceiling Cat they appeared! There still remain formidable financial problems, but I’m heartened by the group of people the Royal has assembled to give it new direction. Check it out:
The task of defining a fresh vision for the RI falls to the new “future direction committee”, chaired by Lord Winston. Also members are: Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society; Professor Colin Blakemore, an Oxford neuroscientist; and physicists Brian Cox and Jim Al Khalili.