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Monday, 7 March 2016

#RSA Engage in #Swindon

Last week I attended an RSA meeting chaired by Martin Newman, the RSA's local heritage ambassador in the Central Community Centre. There was a wide cross section of people there, some of whom are Fellows of the RSA, others not. So what is the RSA and why were they meeting in Swindon last week? Looking on their website I discovered they were founded in 1754 and their commitment to enrich society through ideas and action has remained constant ever since.
Their mission statement also helps understanding what their impetus:

'The mission of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is to enrich society through ideas and action.
We believe that all human beings have creative capacities that, when understood and supported, can be mobilised to deliver a 21st century enlightenment.
We work to bring about the conditions for this change, not just amongst our diverse Fellowship, but also in institutions and communities.
By sharing powerful ideas and carrying out cutting-edge research, we build networks and opportunities for people to collaborate - creating fulfilling lives and a flourishing society.'

Martin Newman gave a short introductory talk reminding us of the fantastic large heritage institutions we have in Swindon:
 The next slide isn't very clear, but it does say we have 659 listed buildings, 53 scheduled monuments and 3 registered Parks and Gardens.
 Martin was followed by Daniel Rose who talked about the Mechanics Institution Trust
 and how his inspiration comes from the pioneering people who created so much innovation; the projects he's involved with includes all heritage in the area of the railway village include GWR Park, turning the Bakers Arms into a community cafe, having a children's fete to celebrate 150th anniversary as well as 175, and the Railway Cottage museum. here's a link to a great piece on Daniel Rose and the Mechanics Institution Trust:
There's an RSA Heritage Index derived from looking at 100 indicators assessing what's important to consider. It's possible to look at overall scores for different places, looking at their potential and how they use it.
There were probably 40 people at this meeting, including organisers for RSA West, Fred Fowler and RSA Central, Maurizio Fantato who works in Swindon and is coming to visit the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery for tomorrow's 175 exhibition preview.

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