I was a Member of the Royal Society of Musicians between February 2014 and November 2018. Membership was by election and payment of an annual subscription.
In 2018, the Society announced its intention to impose a Code of Conduct upon its members. I felt that this was contrary to the spirit of the Society and would hardly have been something of which a free spirit like Handel would have approved. Specifically, the proposed Code intended not to tolerate discrimination on the grounds of “level of intellectual or professional achievement”, which I found absurd given that in my view achievement should be the foundation of any society devoted to the practice of a profession and that elected its members from that profession.
Elsewhere, the Code proposed to give the Board of Governors the sole power to discipline or expel a member who had “acted in a way which is in conflict with the interests of the Society”. I had previously seen similar measures to this used elsewhere as an unsubtle means of quelling dissent in the ranks. Like other changes in the Society such as the unexpected sale of its historic headquarters, much seemed to be being implemented in a “top-down” manner that was not in my view the way that such an institution should be run. In my view, members of a professional society should be responsible for its major executive decisions by democratic vote, rather than most of the power resting with a less accountable elite.
I resigned from membership of the Society in November 2018.