200th Anniversary Campaign
A campaign for the 21st century
In 2015 the Cambridge Union Society will be 200 years old.
Since 1815, the Society has been promoting free speech and the art of public speaking – initially amongst Cambridge undergraduates, but latterly more widely in schools, universities and communities throughout the United Kingdom and abroad.
The Society's activities together with the maintenance of its historic home are supported largely by membership fees: fees which have risen steadily over the years to meet the increased costs of running a 21st-century society.
Happily, recruitment remains buoyant and the Society enjoys widespread popularity amongst the undergraduates and graduates of Cambridge, though an increasing number of members join on bursary schemes designed to encourage the widest participation and to ensure that those who wish to join but cannot afford the full fee are still able to do so.
Changes to student funding in recent years increase the risks associated with dependence on membership fees alone and the Society remains vulnerable to general changes in the economic climate.
In addition the Society's historic premises, iconic though they may be, are not ideally suited to 21st-century access requirements and are, in any case, in an objectively poor state of repair.
The Society's 200th anniversary provides an ideal opportunity to address these issues: to restore and improve the building, to extend the Society's facilities and services to members, to raise money to underwrite bursary schemes and to widen its “outreach” program – a program which proselytises and demonstrates the value of debating by taking it out of the Chamber and into the wider world.
All of these aims can be met in the short term by raising £10 million and a public campaign – culminating in 2015 – will be launched to secure this sum in a tax efficient way from members, friends and other potential supporters.
The three themes of the 200th Anniversary Campaign are:
Rescuing the Union’s Home
Creating a Union fit for 21st century purpose:
- Making essential repairs and meeting DAR and other safety/access requirements
- Restoring the building to its near-original Waterhouse design
- Improving the building and providing state of the art facilities for a growing membership
- Providing a new entrance on Park Street to give the Union a unique street presence for the first time in its history.
Reclaiming the Union’s Premises
Replacing the monies currently generated from leases and allowing the Union to re-occupy all of its refurbished premises.
Renewing the Union’s Mission
Guaranteeing future Union activities by providing financial support for its member programmes (Cambridge and non-Cambridge based) and providing generous bursaries to those who need them.
Whilst the first of these is likely to require substantial capital donations, the second and third are prime candidates for a mature Annual Fund.
The Cambridge Union Society is a 19th-century foundation; but it needs and deserves a 21st-century home.