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  • Weekly blog (9 December 2018)

    Posted on December 9, 2018
    A blog by Catherine Leonard, Secretary-General

    Rather like exercise, my blog seems to be one of the things to put to one side when things get busy.  And it has been a busy couple of weeks.  Not only have I been putting together the first report for our Innocastle project.  But I have also been recruiting our Deputy Secretary-General, getting together a jury for our 2019 Excellence Awards and preparing for the UNFCCC talks in Poland.  Alongside all the everyday hustle and bustle of the INTO office and meetings with World Heritage UK, National Trust of Slovakia, Heritage Day.  Add both children’s birthdays (exactly one week apart) and the beginning of Christmas and it’s all getting a bit lively!

    Duncan Wilson, Hilary McGrady, Michael Ellis MP and Loyd Grossman at Heritage Day (from The Heritage Alliance)

    Heritage Day

    What stood out for me this week was Heritage Day.   This is the annual gathering of the Heritage Alliance, the umbrella body for the English heritage sector.   INTO attended en masse as it’s such a great learning and networking occasion.

    The day was opened by the UK Heritage and Tourism Minister who underlined THA’s position as the go-to body for government.  His speech is here.  The benefits of coming together to feed into policy and practice in a single voice are clear.   And something we try to do as INTO.  But nationally, is this role replicated in other countries?  Sometimes I wonder whether people wishing to establish a ‘National Trust’ might not be better off setting up a Heritage Alliance?  Or perhaps some of our Trusts already fulfil this role to a certain extent?  Anyway, that is probably a whole other blog …

    Loyd Grossman, outgoing Chairman of THA highlighted the importance of heritage as something to hold onto in ‘all the chaos’.   However, he also said that it was only ever going to be at the bottom of the pile in government funding priorities.   He underlined the need for heritage organisations to get better at asking for money from other sources.  Moreover, the THA has run a very successful Giving to Heritage training programme.

    People power

    Hilary McGrady spoke very powerfully about what heritage means to her personally.  Now nearly a year into hers stint as NTEWNI Director-General, she emphasised the power of heritage to bring people together.

    She talked about everyday heritage and the importance of getting more people to love more places.  (And not just National Trust ones!)   This democratisation of heritage and holding hands with other organisations fits well with the themes of Bermuda 2019.

    Hilary McGrady referencing INTO Chairman, Fiona Reynolds at Heritage Day

    Duncan Wilson shared the results of Historic England’s Heritage Counts annual survey.  He highlighted the social value of historic high streets.  (Are we finally catching up with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and their Main Street programme?)  His focus on heritage in commercial use links nicely with Hilary’s interest in urban heritage.

    Heritage Heroes

    THA’s Heritage Heroes Awards are a chance to honour the under-resourced, over-stretched people working in our sector.  It was nicely done and some good learning for our first Excellent Awards which will be made next year.

    One of the awardees was Maria Perks of the Heritage Trusts Network. Again, I think there could be some good learning there for INTO and how we marshal our resources to assist new organisations.   Also, I really liked what Maria said about projects being inspiring but people are more inspiring.

    Another good quote was from Matthew Slocombe, Director of SPAB who talked about local relevance and international significance.

    Heritage Day (from The Heritage Alliance)

    Principles for partnership

    Alice Purkiss gave a great introduction to the University of Oxford’s collaboration with the National Trust, Trusted Source.  Her key principles for partnerships were particularly helpful:

    It’s OK to have different motivations but there must be mutual benefit.

    • Mind your language – it might not be the same as your partner’s (how many acronyms do you use?)
    • Heritage organisations work to different time frames to universities (and probably business)
    • Innovation is great – but it doesn’t always have to involve new technology – can be about culture change
    • People – fundamentally partnerships are about people

    It was a great day, we all learned such a lot and felt so inspired!

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