As you know, during the lockdown we are continuing – thanks to Zoom – to hold talks which, I believe, have been appreciated by those members who have attended them.
We all naturally hope that in the not-too-distant future it will be possible to resume physical meetings. It may well be, though, that even after relaxation of current social distancing measures we will consider continuing with on-line meetings in conjunction with physical meetings, to continue to enable the wider member and non-member participation that we now realise to be possible through meeting on-line.
One of the particular advantages of Zoom is that it “unshackles us from geography”. It is noteworthy that Dr Bettina Renz, when she delivered her talk to us on 26 May on Russia’s military revival, was in Germany. And, when Sergei Guriev gives his talk on 24 June on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Russian economy, he will be in France. So we are very conscious of this further opportunity afforded by Zoom: to attract a much wider range of speakers than previously – both from Russia and from overseas generally.
The Society has a lot going for it and, thanks to the energy, imagination and dedication of my colleagues on the Committee and the support of members, is doing its utmost to continue fulfilling its important charitable objectives in the present difficult conditions. We are continuing to arrange talks on subjects of great importance and interest by high-calibre speakers and to publish articles of a consistently high quality in East-West Review.
This is helping us to achieve our primary aim of promoting a wider and deeper understanding and appreciation of all aspects of Russian life and culture in the widest sense, with a view to enhancing Anglo-Russian understanding.
At the same time we continue to guard jealously our independent status as a non-political, non-governmental charity, which is a vital element in the distinctive and balanced contribution we are able to make.
In light of all the above, in a recent discussion the Committee agreed that it would be beneficial if the Society could reach out to a wider audience and also extend the Society’s geographical reach not just to other parts of the UK, but also overseas. This would be with a view to attracting a wider and more diverse range of members wherever they may be based, that is to say including members who are British but also members who are Russian – or, indeed, of other nationalities.
To reach out in this way and to make the Society’s existence better-known and its activities more accessible would clearly involve undertaking more active advertising and promotion of the Society and its activities.
We would be grateful for any practical suggestions you may have as to effective ways and means of doing this, for example by making full use social media platforms as well as through more traditional media. We would in particular be interested to discuss ideas with those who might be interested in contributing relevant skills and experience, and perhaps in joining us on the Committee, with a view to playing an active role in relation to advertising, promotion and development of the Society.
We are acutely aware of the unique and rich breadth of experience and knowledge of the Society’s members and believe pursuit of its purposes will be enhanced to optimal effect as members increasingly participate in and contribute to its activities. Please feel free to contact me and/or any member of the Committee to talk over any suggestions or offers that you may like to make.
David Brummell Chairman