After more than 60 years of doing good, ROSL’s charitable arm, the ROSL Golden Jubilee Trust, is changing its name to the ROSL Foundation, and with it, consolidating its funding priorities. Trustee Helen Prince explains why the changes are happening, what they mean, and what you can do to help

Your background lies in fundraising for charities, most recently at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Do you see an opportunity for the ROSL Foundation to increase its fundraising activities?

For me, as a long-time member, one of the things that I really like about ROSL is that it is not just a club, it is cultural organisation and always has been. That’s what I’ve valued and enjoyed about being a member.

What a cultural organisation does is it keeps on refreshing itself, it keeps on investigating something new; new ideas, new performances, new artists, new ways for people to engage with one another and with culture. I think that adds a lot of value to life and that’s one of the things that over the last 18 months, the lack of being able to attend live performances or see live exhibitions, for me, that’s been sad. What you can do through a screen is great, and I think ROSL has done a lot of really good digital work, a lot more than some other bigger and better funded organisations. But equally, the development of new arts and new artists, that ability to engage with ideas and experience beauty is really important. Those kind of cultural values have an acknowledged charitable value.

When a lot of people think of charity, they think about cancer research or overseas development, animal welfare, that sort of thing. But charity is actually very broad.

Step up

If you have visited ROSL recently, you may have noticed that there is currently a temporary staircase taking you down from the Brabourne Room to the Garden, while the original wrought-iron staircase has been removed for renovation. Funded by the ROSL Foundation, this unique piece of decorative ironwork requires the skills of specialist craftspeople in its repair and restoration, and is an important constituent in the listing of these heritage buildings. It will hopefully make a return in early 2022.

Jonathan Radford

Saxophonist Jonathan Radford won the Annual Music Competition Gold Medal in 2018 and received £20,000 in prize money, £5,000 of which was specifically reserved for use in furthering his career. He chose to use this money to commission new repertoire for saxophone. The original work by composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Algernon, received its world premiere at the 2019 Brighton Festival, performed by Jonathan and fellow ROSL AMC alumni Ashley Fripp piano. Its performance at the festival introduced a whole new audience to both Jonathan and Ashley, as well as Cheryl, and was supported by a further performance at the Buxton International Festival later that year.

Historically, the Trust has focused more on some of those other charitable areas, such as working in Commonwealth countries, working in schools or working with deprived communities, which is valuable work, but there are lots of other organisations that do those things. We are now hoping through the ROSL Foundation to focus on what ROSL can uniquely do to make the world a better place. Simply put, to add cultural value for members, but not just for members. It goes wider than that.

When you support a young artist, or a musician, the cultural value is then shared more widely through their work and careers. It’s not just about having a musician in to do a performance; they gain something from that performance, which they then take on to their next performance. They gain expertise. The prizes we run give musicians opportunities, the scholarships we fund give artists opportunities. There is an investment in those people who take and share that cultural value to more and more people. In recent years, we have added even further activity by creating and supporting arts education projects, allowing the recipients of our competitions and scholarships the opportunity to give back to the next generation. With recent projects ranging from East London to the Caribbean, we intend to continue to educate and encourage new talent to contribute to our arts programmes.

More directly, a lot of our concerts and exhibitions are open to the public as well, so it’s not just limited to members. This charitable activity is not just for the good of the club, but it is also the club doing something for the wider good.

Antigua and Barbuda Youth Symphony Orchestra

The Foundation’s support for the arts goes beyond the clubhouse, with arts education projects around the world considered for funding. The Antigua and Barbuda Youth Symphony Orchestra hosted a delegation of ROSL alumni in 2019, receiving expert training, culminating in a concert celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Commonwealth at the national stadium. Plans to travel back to return to the country will happen when Covid allows.

ROSL is not just a club, it is a cultural organisation and always has been. That’s what I’ve valued and enjoyed about being a member

What else will the Foundation support as well as the arts programme?

We’re also committed to the care of our clubhouse, this beautiful Grade-I listed building. Looking after that, for posterity, is not only a duty, but it is charitable work. It is important that places like these are here for the future. These historic buildings connect us to the past and we have something to learn from them. It’s really important that people can engage with history, and provide context to the present day world. The discussion of who we were and who we are enriches peoples’ lives.

On a practical level, the Foundation supporting the protection and upkeep of the clubhouse also allows us to fulfil our charitable activities in the arts by providing spaces for us to do those things. The ability to put on high-quality performances in a wonderful concert hall with excellent acoustics really highlights the synergy between the space and the performance. 

Do you feel a big responsibility to help steer the direction of ROSL’s philanthropy?

Yes! That is the duty and there is always a balance to strike. Everyone knows that spending money is easy, but you have to make those hard decisions on what to spend the money on. You can’t do everything, so I think what we’re trying to do as trustees, working with the ROSL team, is to try and be more integrated in what ROSL is and what it stands for, so that it fits together more clearly.

Previously, the Trust was supporting lots of things that were good in themselves, but perhaps didn’t fit together so neatly into a ‘Why is ROSL doing that? How does it fit with everything else we do?’ question. We’ve supported some excellent education projects over the years, that have made a great difference to the people involved. But it was perhaps unclear why we had supported some and not others, and what they had to do with ROSL’s overall aims and objectives.

That’s a big part of the motivation in why we are moving towards the new vision of the Foundation, that symbiosis between the arts and the building, and linking education with arts and music, to more clearly articulate who we are and what we do. If people have that clearer understanding of what we do and why we do it, that’s much easier for anyone to support and donate to.

What’s next? And how can you help?

As we celebrate 100 years of our Royal Charter and 70 years of the ROSL Annual Music Competition in 2022, you can continue to support our charitable work supporting young talent both in our heritage buildings and around the globe, and can donate at any time.

Visit for more information.

Making a difference

Emily Sun, violinist

Australian violinist Emily Sun won the ROSL Annual Music Competition in 2016 and took home the £15,000 prize paid for by the ROSL Foundation. She has gone on to have a stellar international career.

“The Annual Music Competition really showcases you as an artist and what you believe in as a musician; it was my breakthrough moment in London. After that, my career really started rolling and things started happening.”

Norman Oti, student

Norman is a Year 12 student at Selwyn College, which has recently opened a computer lab thanks to funding from the ROSL Foundation, the first of its kind at a school in the Solomon Islands.

“The availability of computers in the college helps me in my learning in many ways. Without the computers, I believe my learning will be affected. Thank you for donating these computers.”