RSNSW & SMSA strategic partnership - Royal Society of NSW News & Events - The Royal Society of NSW

RSNSW & SMSA strategic partnership

SMSA logoThe Council of the Society is pleased to announce that it has reached agreement with the Board of the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts (SMSA) to establish a strategic partnership. This partnership reflects the similar heritage of the two organisations and their commitment to advancing knowledge and engaging with the broadest possible audience in New South Wales.

The Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts (SMSA) was established in 1833, following the Scottish example of providing open access to education for the working classes, who, historically, had been excluded from formal, traditional education systems. The Governor at the time was Sir Richard Bourke, who was a strong supporter of it with an annual allowance of £200. In 1886, the SMSA was incorporated by an act of the NSW Parliament, similar to the act which, in 1881, formally established the Society as a body corporate.

SMSA buildingOriginally, the SMSA occupied the building that is currently the Arthouse Hotel, at 271 Pitt Street. The SMSA sold this building in the 1990s to Alan Bond’s corporation for redevelopment of the site. With the proceeds, the SMSA bought a building at 280 Pitt Street that could house their activities and provide a source of rental income. The SMSA occupies three floors of this building. The third floor houses offices and meeting rooms and the Thomas Kenneally Collection, the private library donated to the SMSA some years ago by Thomas Keneally FRSN. The second floor houses an extensive lending library and the first floor has an auditorium that seats about 130 people, some smaller meeting rooms, and facilities for limited catering.

Over the last 18 months or so, the Council of the Society and the Board of the SMSA have had extensive discussions regarding ways in which the two organisations could collaborate to gain synergies from their similar objectives and activities and to enhance the standing of both organisations. The governing bodies of both organisations formally signed off on the strategic partnership in September.

Key elements of this agreement include:
• Development of a joint program of events that will be broadly attractive to members of both organisations and the general public;
• Display of important selections of material from the Society’s library;
• Reciprocal membership benefits between the two organisations when engaged in joint activities.

In addition, the Society will hold some of its own functions at the SMSA auditorium and meeting rooms, particularly when they are expected to attract larger audiences. The location near Town Hall station and one of the new Metro line stations is particularly convenient. The Society’s presence in the building will be identified in the main foyer with its name and seal.

signing the SMSA MoUThe Council believes this partnership is a very important initiative and will further consolidate our efforts to promote the Society plus increasing its influence in the intellectual life of New South Wales. We look forward very much to working with the SMSA in taking this arrangement forward.

A formal Memorandum of Understanding between the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts and the Royal Society of NSW was signed on 30 October 2017.  At the signing were [front row, L to R] Thomas Kenneally AO FRSN, Winsome Allen (SMSA President), Emeritus Professor Brynn Hibbert (RSNSW President), [back row, L to R] Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN, Denis Mockler (SMSA Board member) and John Hardie FRSN (RSNSW Councillor).

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