RIBA council members have backed chief executive Richard Hastilow's proposals to give the institute a shake-out by splitting it into three operating units: the RIBA Foundation for cultural activities, such as exhibitions and outreach programmes for schools, paid for by sponsorship deals and state aid; RIBA Professional Services for membership support, education and professional development and the Clients' Advisory Service, to be financed through membership subscription; and RIBA Enterprises, a profit-making centre. Each of the three divisions would be controlled from the corporate centre. 'I think we can get a greater focus and make a greater impact, and this will enable us to clarify to other people what we're about, 'Hastilow told the council.
Hastilow said the aim was to draw up a 'fairly simple corporate plan' with key objectives that could be understood by both RIBA staff and members. 'It's got to be a working document, so if you say to people, 'tell me two or three things that the RIBA has set out to do', they might be able to say what they are.'
The idea of a RIBA Foundation was particularly welcomed by Richard Murphy, who lamented the parlous state of architectural awareness in this country compared with the US, Germany, France and Holland. UK exhibitions and events relating to architecture were very often financed by architects themselves, he said.
'This is as crazy as the National Gallery keeping going through the subsidies of living artists, 'Murphy went on to tell the council. 'For the first time in this country architecture as a serious cultural activity could be properly supported.'