I’ve had some really nice feedback from members about these updates so I’m going to keep sharing them for the moment. A bit less on the reopening front today so I’m including that in the body of the email. But do please send us your news – maybe add us to your press release mailing list?
As I’m writing this, I’ve just seen that the US National Trust has issued a statement on Confederate monuments, which can perhaps be read alongside the NTEWNI’s similar on addressing the histories of slavery and colonialism. These are useful pointers as we all seek to live through our values, educate ourselves and reflect on our role in telling the full story.
We were all delighted to see that the National Trust of Guernsey reopened its Folk and Costume Museum on Monday! And are also taking bookings at their 18th century watchtower:
NOW OPEN!! 🥳 we’re very happy to be welcoming everyone back to our beautiful site again! We hope to see lots of the smiling faces that we’ve missed🌸🤩 (we love the bunting!)
Monday to Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 11am-3pm, full details: https://t.co/qjIoLijDuf pic.twitter.com/oNsRitrxY0
— NT Guernsey (@NatTrustGsy) June 15, 2020
Last Friday I had a good chat with Charles from the National Trust for Jersey about their plans to open the Wetland Centre later that day. I think we’re all familiar with the sanitary and distance rules now, so I won’t detail those here. But it was interesting to hear his concerns about volunteers, many of whom are in the vulnerable category. And that they will potentially lose money by reopening their sites, although very important for morale to do so. Charles also reported that membership has remained steady thankfully, as has rental income.
Tip: They sent postcards to all their members, thanking them for their support. The vast majority were hugely thankful as many are not on email or social media. Other Trusts have been talking about price-freezing or reducing membership fees as a simple way to say thank you (and increase retention).
Like many Trusts, Jersey is looking at ways to engage local audiences. And on that note, we will be holding an online discussion for members involved in the RVP on 30 June at 12 noon UK time (GMT+1) to talk about engaging with local users and programming post-corona. More information to follow but please register your interest here.
As I mentioned last week, the Gelderland Trust has also reopened some of its indoor sites, with more to come this weekend. Jeanine told me that everyone is thrilled, apart from the many volunteers who still have to be shielded. They are itching to return. And the Trust would love to have them, as they provide lots of daily support with housekeeping and gardening, but mostly because they are part of the family, and are sorely missed. But health must come first.
They have also turned to technology for bookings and information. Lots of QR codes – to download room ‘fact sheets’ and even to buy a ticket on site. They have worked hard on new routes around the castles to avoid overcrowding. Where it’s not possible to ensure social distance, one castle has even installed a traffic light system!
These investments are costly however and, with less visitors, no events, reduced rent from café/restaurant partners, finances are stretched. But Jeanine said that fundraising continues, and an exceptional number of visitors have become new donors to the Trust! Also, the Dutch national airline KLM has a campaign to support culture during corona, so they now have 28 air stewards working from them!
Positieve reacties van de bezoekers #hiermoetjezijn tijdens ons eerste openingsweekend @kasteelcb @glk Wie wil er niet als een van de weinigen door een groots en stil kasteel lopen! https://t.co/37elZxyUhK en reserveer snel en gemakkelijk alvast de tickets! pic.twitter.com/UgCrO4uxw1
— Kasteel Cannenburch (@kasteelcb) June 15, 2020
As I mentioned last week, the National Trust EWNI is reporting good membership recruitment and increasing the amount of bookable tickets to its properties. The National Trust for Scotland’s fundraiser is also going well. And our colleagues at Heritage New Zealand are seeing the travel ban as an opportunity to increase local tourism.
Hot on the heels of Peel Castle last week, Manx National Heritage opened Rushen Abbey and the Laxey Wheel yesterday. As social distancing measures have been reduced, the interpretation centre and heritage shop are also open at Rushden Abbey, as well as the gardens. And people can climb to the top of the Laxey Wheel. Toilets are also now open. They did report some vandalism at Peel Castle however where new signage was removed.
There have been a few instances of littering and deliberate damage – if you have any tips on how to handle this, do please share!
Interesting to hear that INTO members are already beginning to modify their signage and tone. The NTEWNI is updating its templates and new signage will say “Keep a safe distance apart’ for example as we wait for government guidance on our (current) 2m rule.
FAI will hold its famous ‘Spring Days’ next weekend. This is usually a very important fundraising and member recruitment event at the beginning of the visitor season. FAI is hoping that this outdoors, pre-booked (and donated) version will help fill the gap. (For info, FAI are using Musement as their booking system.)
Like everyone, I’ve been to a lot of webinars and online discussions this week, including an excellent one yesterday about the shape of the future run by the Association of Independent Museums. John Orna-Ornstein of the NTEWNI was one of the speakers and I was struck by what he said about focusing on our users and what they want from us as organisations. As well as the importance of partnership.
We also had a good partner meeting of the Innocastle project as we work out how to take more content and learning online. We will certainly be feeding in some good practice from the INTO network in managing heritage post-pandemic:
And lastly some interesting tips from the National Trust for Canada’s discussion about the impacts on urban heritage and revitalising Main Streets after the crisis. There is a recording of the webinar here.
At the weekend, I joined the REMPART General Assembly, online version. Normally it’s a three-day affair bringing together their partners from across France. But they bravely took it into the virtual space this year and it worked very well. It was good to feel their passion for heritage, for partnership and for social inclusion across the airwaves. Whilst there’s no substitute for a live experience (as we know from our work), it does show us that we can act and interact differently. (And thank you for the shout out to INTO!)
In a discussion with Interreg Europe partners on digital technology, we considered which of the resourceful adaptations and innovations we’ve made over the past months will remain with us into the future. Many, like online meetings, operating at pace, developing new skills and increasing engagement through online content, have been very positive. And we will all want to want to build on those as we review our mission and purpose on the road ahead.
Do reach out to us here at INTO if there is anything we can assist with. We need good networks more than ever at the moment.