Conference learning/takeaways (Weekly blog, 7 April 2019)
April 7, 2019
A blog by Catherine Leonard, Secretary-General
There was so much to absorb from the Bermuda Conference, it’s hard to distil into a single blog. I know there’s only a short window of time for immediate reflections however, so here goes. Here are ten brief things that stood out for me:
- Heritage ‘continuation’ rather than preservation: you preserve food in jars and when you open it, you let the air in and it will spoil if you don’t devour it. What we are about is heritage continuation.
- Learning from our dark chapters so that we can grow together, inclusive of all and proud of that. Heritage can draw communities together and be the needed cathartic force. We need to be brave. And do the right thing. The ‘sisterhood of Trusts’ can set the tone for our whole sector.
- Put human dignity at the centre of everything we do, like the ‘small acts of kindness’ at Calke Abbey.
- Multiple stories of objects and places – it’s OK to share the space.
- A house museum is not always the best use of a heritage place, as demonstrated by the National Trust for Jersey at Grève de Lecq Barracks which is being leased to an arts organisation; Morel Farm where they are working in partnership with Mencap the charity for people with a learning disability; and the mixed approach to the Foot Buildings.
- We need to relearn how to bring emotion into our work – and reconnect with our values.
- ‘What if the period of significance is now?’
- Tell the story of antique porcelain through working (and healing) with clay at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto.
- Engage children as Heritage Keepers or Lightkeepers.
And lastly …
10. A handful of practical suggestions to making our businesses work (by no means exhaustive!)
There was so much learning and its impossible to capture it all. Indeed, there is much that I don’t even know about yet as you can’t be in two places at once! I also took away lots of learning for INTO itself. From developing more platforms to join people up (like the Little Islands, Big Heritage idea) to building a fighting fund to support Trusts in need. Can’t wait for all the presentations to be online so that I can be reminded of everything and add to my learning!