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Zogolovitch bids to save RIBA Trust

Roger Zogolovitch has launched a campaign to undo the RIBA’s decision to abolish the trust which looks after its cultural activities

The developer and former RIBA Trust trustee (pictured) is calling for a ‘Special General Meeting’ where all of the RIBA’s members will be asked to vote on whether the organisation should have been wound up.

While Zogolovitch has yet to phrase the exact wording of the referendum motion, he has already begun soliciting the 280 chartered members signatories needed to call the meeting.

The trust curates the ‘most pre-eminent collection of architectural artefacts in the world,’ according to Zogolovitch.

He explained: ‘The reason the RIBA Trust was established in the first place was so that it is independent [but] by including it inside the RIBA it becomes an internalised solution which takes away from the importance of the curatorship of this collection which has worldwide importance.’

Zogolovitch said international benefactors would be put off donating money in support of the collections when they found out they were giving funds to a ‘quasi- trade union’ membership organisation instead of an independent trust.

RIBA council on 19 December voted to abolish the trust as part of a package of measures aimed at streamlining the institute’s operations.

Prior to the winding up, the RIBA board failed to consult RIBA Trust staff or trustees – according to Zogolovitch who sits on the board of trustees and described this behaviour as ‘discourteous’.

Backed by former institute president Owen Luder and honorary librarian Paul Davis, Zogolovitch in theory has an unlimited amount of time to mount the constitutional challenge however he has made it clear that he wishes to publish his counter-abolition motion as soon as possible.

The trust ceased to exist on 1 January with its responsibilities for the RIBA collections, library, events and awards programme passing over to the main RIBA company.

It is understood that a number of jobs at the trust are at risk with its long standing director Charles Knevitt already issued with a redundancy notice. In a separate turn of events RIBA director of communications Roula Konzotis also announced she was leaving the organisation this week.

Speaking to the AJ shortly after last month’s council meeting, RIBA chief executive Harry Rich defended the move and said the trust’s winding up was part of an ambitious bid to deliver cultural programming to a global platform and entice wealthy international donors.

He said: ‘Part of the nervousness is an assumption by some people that the RIBA Trust is the only thing that stands between the RIBA and barbarism.

‘As valuable as the RIBA Trust has been, the collections existed a long time before the RIBA Trust existed.

‘The idea that the RIBA collections are not safe in the hands of the RIBA is an odd idea.’

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