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The Royal Institute of British Architects is considering paying its elected presidents an ‘average wage’ of £32 000 a year if it can square it with the Charity Commission. Should design bodies pay their presidents/ chairmen, and if so what extra duties might they expect them to perform?

‘The Design Business Association chairmen put in considerable time and give invaluable support to the chief executive and others. But so do other elected directors. These contributions are made by busy people running their own businesses. They do all this for free because they believe in putting something back and, yes, of course, because it might raise their profile and that of their consultancy. Paying them would change, for the worse, the basis of the relationship, as well as the perceptions of others about why they do it.’

Ian Rowland-Hill, Chief executive, Design Business Association

‘As just about every president/ chairman of the bodies representing design are owners of successful design groups, I cannot see what difference £32 000 would make. The great and the good who take up these roles would be better served by the money going to the staff who run the organisations they represent. They put heart and soul into their jobs for little reward.’

Callum Lumsden, Managing director, Lumsden Design Partnership

‘Notwithstanding the problem of doing so in charity law, payment would probably create more problems than it might solve. If the payment is necessary to cover reasonable expenses in carrying out the defined role, then there is little discussion other than internal finances. Perhaps we should consider “job share” rather than a wage if there are extra duties.’

Frank Peters MCSD, Chief executive, Chartered Society of Designers

‘I presume one reason to consider paying presidents is if the real doyennes of the industry are no longer prepared to volunteer for the brickbats and hard work. Thankfully we have a long lineage of motivated leaders here. The integrity of our governance is, in part, protected by maintaining a healthy distinction between paid professionals and elected volunteer trustees.’

David Kester, Chief executive, D&AD

‘The issue is identical to considering the worth of design as a whole. Cost, price and value. Would being paid allow them to bring more to a particular organisation?’

Gary Lockton, Chief executive, North Creative

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