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  • Snow globes (Weekly blog, 10 December 2017)

    Posted on December 11, 2017
    A blog by Catherine Leonard, Secretary-General

    There is something about snow.  The way it gives a new perspective to the familiar.  The way it dampens sound.   The way it fills your heart with childish delight.  You’d have thought that, having spent ten winters in the Alps, I’d have got used to snow.  But no. It still has the power to bring a smile.  Perhaps it’s that hope of a ‘snow day’???  (Something you never get in a ski resort!)

    With fellow CNTA Trustees/Executive Committee members, 4 December 2017

    Czech National Trust Abroad

    So, snow aside, it’s been an interesting week which began with a meeting of the Czech National Trust Abroad.  Well, I say meeting.  It’s probably best described as ‘supper’.   Food and wine being the best way to get busy people together!

    We met at the wonderful Brasserie Zédel in Piccadilly Circus: Talking about Czech heritage in a Parisian café within the columned marble ballroom of the former Regent Palace Hotel!  The 1930s/Beaux Arts theme felt very appropriate to discussions about current CNT projects in Prague, which include the restoration of Cubist street icons.   It was good to hear about a new partnership with Prague College as well as plans for a big exhibition next year.   It’s all go at the Czech National Trust!

    Heritage Day

    The following day, I attended Heritage Day, organised by The Heritage Alliance, the umbrella body for the heritage sector in England.

    It was great to hear many of the presenters speak about the importance of sharing our knowledge and experience internationally.  From the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism to the CEO of the Heritage Lottery Fund!  John Glen MP spoke about an “internationalist, outward-looking Britain” in his speech.  He also announced a new World Heritage Wall-to-Wall collaboration linking experts at Hadrian’s Wall with their counterparts at the Great Wall of China.  This collaboration is part of the UK – China People to People dialogue.  He said “It is a perfect example of the global significance of heritage and how it can be used to strengthen our international partnerships, grow tourism and build a truly global Britain.”  Interesting stuff.

    It was in questions that the Minister spoke fondly of his childhood growing up in Lacock (alongside trips out in his Dad’s vintage car).  His affection for the NT came across strongly as well as his desire to visit all of the UK’s World Heritage Sites.   I was impressed.  He’s a bit of a rising star so probably won’t stay in the Department for long, but let hope so!

    John Darlington of WMF Britain: You need a hat, partners, attitude, skills, empowerment & hope

    Kate Mavor, former Chief Executive of the National Trust for Scotland, now at English Heritage, spoke about their amazing partnership with Google.  I loved her line about Google being famous for ‘moving fast and breaking things’ and therefore not likely to be popular with the curators!  Nonetheless it has helped English Heritage to find a voice and to reach out to a younger, more international audience.    I urge you to take a look.

    Going (snow!) global

    Simon Jenkins excellent 2016 article ‘From Timbuktu to Grimsby, heritage deserves to be restored and revered‘ was referenced by Henrietta Billings, Director of SAVE.  She was speaking and about SAVE’s efforts (ultimately only partly successful) to protect the maritime dockside at Grimsby.

    John Darlington, Executive Director at World Monuments Fund Britain had just returned from the Middle East and took up the baton.  His insightful presentation was themed around six things you need in your carpet bag when travelling overseas.  A hat, partners, attitude, skills, empowerment & hope.

    Other highlights of Heritage Day – apart from catching up with old friends – were hearing that:

    • People who live in conservation areas love them (Deborah Lamb, Historic England), contrary to what many think (Heritage Counts 2017)
    • The first monthly #HeritageChat had been a great success (Mike Heyworth, Heritage 2020) – something for INTO to consider?
    • David Martyn of Kings Weston Action Group was honoured for his work coordinating volunteer working parties – a potential model approach for INTO members?
    • Likewise Norman Hudson of the Country Houses Foundation which achieves so much with a board of committed trustees and one part-time paid secretary – impressive!
    • The Heritage Alliance and the Architectural Heritage Fund have launched a new fundraising directory

    All in all, an inspirational and interesting Day of Heritage!

    China and Siberia

    On Friday, I caught up with Ding Feng of the Ruan Yisan Heritage Foundation while she was on a short visit to London.  We met at the British Museum and enjoyed a visit to the amazing Scythians Exhibition.   (I think we both learned a lot!)

    I can’t remember the last time I met Ding Feng, but it’s a while ago now.   Following a hiatus about six years ago, we seem to have slipped out of regular contact with our Chinese colleagues.  Although Professor Ruan did come to Cambridge, which was great.   In any case, it was good to reconnect and hear what they have been doing.    One major current concern is around changes to the Ti Lan Qiao Historic District in Shanghai.  Many European Jews fled here during the 1930s and 40s.

    An update from Africa

    Lastly, the winners of our INTO Africa ‘Encourage African Youth‘ video competition have been announced.  I know Bill and his team are getting these on line so that everyone can see them but would like to share the moment when the Heritage Club of the Henry Fergusson Junior Secondary School found out that they had won … Joyful!

    So, I’ve feel I’ve been shaking the metaphorical snow globe to show you what the world can look like if you shake things up a bit!  Back in the real world the snow has been slowly melting since I began this blog.  Looks like the children will have to wait until we go back to the Alps for ‘proper’ snow!

    Thanks for reading!



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