The future of the EES
Last month we invited EES members and supporters to answer questions to help us figure out the range of services we need to plan for when we start re-developing our HQ in central London. Rebuilding is going to be essential, both because of damage caused by neighbouring trees and because the facilities inside haven’t been updated in the last thirty years. So we wanted to know what changes will bring most value to our members, supporters, and visiting researchers.
There was a truly tremendous response from you and it’s going to take us a while to work through many hundreds of replies and thousands of comments. Our Trustees have been sent the whole 100+ pages of analysis but we wanted to give everyone a quick summary of some of the findings. Here goes!
First things first. Although for the last 140 years we have been based firmly in the UK, with an office now in Cairo too, our members and supporters come from every corner of the world. The largest number of responses came from the UK, then North America, closely followed by Europe and Egypt. We had replies from no fewer than thirty-two countries across five continents. Egyptology is a cultural interest that knows no national boundaries.
Almost sixty per cent of our members and supporters who replied had attended one or more of the online lectures, seminars, courses, and other events we’ve staged during the global health crisis. There is an enormous demand for us to continue this service, and to find ways of making it more easily accessible to people in different time zones.
Almost half of those attending our online events had also joined paid-for courses that were offered at half-price to members, and 96% of those who did so said they would recommend them to others. Hundreds of individuals offered comments about our online events, almost all of them being positive, and the only substantial criticism concerned the timing of “live” events being difficult for some time zones with suggestions of making recordings available to members for a limited time.
Most of our members and supporters, whether from the UK or elsewhere, say they are unlikely to attend physical EES events in London (most obviously, for geographical reasons), though many of them still feel we should have a social space in our HQ for members. But there also remains a huge demand for us to provide library and archive facilities (see below) where members or researchers can come to study.
65% of our members and supporters who replied are aged 55 or over. Although that means, obviously, that 35% are younger, we clearly need to encourage more young people to join the Society if we’re going to be able to continue our work in the long term. The good news is that we have grown our membership significantly over the past eighteen months due to our increased online presence.
We’d like to thank everyone who chose to take the survey. We’ll keep you posted in the months to come about our future hopes and plans for furthering knowledge of, and access to, the wonders of Egyptian culture in all its forms.