We’re beginning to process the receipts for our special TAP-INTO grants this week. Laptops, zoom accounts, cameras, face masks, information films, Perspex screens – not particularly exciting, but all vital to our members’ recovery from C-19. We are delighted to have been able to help in a small way. Here is Nadia Hardie in PPE kit with the Blue Iguana Conservation gang at the National Trust for the Cayman Islands!
And we continue to offer moral support and advice via our ASK-INTO programme (simply a way to connect you to the expertise you need), our international webinar series as well as on-going communications like these weekly updates and our social media feeds.
The last webinar was led by Kara Roopsingh of the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago and Clea Warner of the National Trust for Scotland. They collaborated on a TAP-INTO project last year looking at ways to unlock the potential of island heritage sites. They shared some good tips for creating destinations, working with local entrepreneurs, telling multiple and layered histories, attracting tourists whilst engaging local people and maintaining conservation standards, developing a master plan, even how to pivot retail in the time of corona! It was a great discussion, ably hosted by Alex Lamont Bishop.
We’re grateful to them both for sharing their experiences. These are challenging times, but it’s really heartening to see INTO members still working together, in solidarity with one another, although currently apart.
I’ve mentioned Drayton Hall before in these updates – it’s an 18th-century Palladian mansion in Charleston, South Carolina, in the care of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. And it’s at the heart of two things we’re all grappling with at the moment: how to tell a broader range of stories about our places and how we recover from coronavirus.
As Cat Coughlin, Communications Manager says in this article about Charleston, “There is a new inclination to lean into harder discussions here. No gloss. You can’t put lipstick on this story. But it is the American story. We have a responsibility.” And this is echoed by John Orna-Ornstein of the National Trust for England, Wales and Northern Ireland in an article this week about the links of British country houses to slavery.
Secondly, Drayton Hall embodies the way so many INTO places are working through coronavirus. First, they took their work online, like offering this virtual tour of the attic, an area usually off-limits to visitors, during the National Trust’s Preservation Month. Then they opened for landscape visits. And yesterday they began reopening the main house.
But whilst we are beginning to reopen our houses and reconnect people with actual places, the progress on digital access we’ve made over the past few months will serve us well post-corona. “We’ve opened up, tremendously, ways in which people experience historic places digitally in the past eight weeks, and I think that’s here to stay,” says Katherine Malone-France, Chief Preservation Officer at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Trustee of INTO, in this article about the future of preservation. “This wave of digital creativity is going to have long-term benefits for all aspects of the way we think about heritage and place-based tourism.”
Improved access and communications make our work more participatory and more focussed on the people we are here to serve. Which can only be a good thing!
We’ve had some great feedback on our 2019 Annual Report from our wider stakeholder network. Like this from Dr Shobita Punja, art historian and former CEO of India’s National Culture Fund: “It’s amazing how far your reach is and how you are expanding activities to meet local needs.” Or this from UNESCO specialist, Richard Engelhardt, who spoke at INTO Bali 2017: “I read it with interest and felt encouraged at all the new innovative programmes INTO members have managed to launch.”
The video was particularly well received. “Thank you so much for this cheering film and report! It’s really given me a lift to see how far you’ve come and to reconnect with old friends”, said Judy Cligman who spoke at our Delhi conference when she was Policy Director at the UK Heritage Lottery Fund. And I’ll let you into a little secret … as our Communications Assistant is on furlough, I made it myself on animoto.com …
Sharing our Report has prompted some INTO members to share theirs with us, which is lovely. Thank you. This week, we received the 2019 Rapport d’Activité from the Conservatoire du Littoral. I particularly liked reading about the demolition of the last villa of the Rémire-Montjoly holiday camp in French Guiana, which is now happily returned to nature. It reminded me of the National Trust for Jersey’s similar work at Plémont, which we featured in our 2015 case study series.
I jumped the gun with my email last week – my apologies. We are going to hold two separate events now. The first focussing on the logistics of the Reciprocal Visiting Programme on 14 July, and a second exploring wider engagement issues. If you have signed up for the RVP – or are considering it – please join the online discussion at 11am GMT (12 noon current UK time) on Tuesday 14 July on zoom.
Over 1000 volunteers have returned to NTEWNI properties this week. General Managers and Volunteer Managers across over 140 places have been carefully following guidance to welcome volunteers back on site. This still represents a small proportion (average 8 per place) but is great that they can now support essential and reopening tasks. If you would like to learn more about how they are managing this, please do contact me.
As proud partners of Europa Nostra, we were delighted to see the Friends of Czech Heritage, an INTO associate, shortlisted this year! They are up for the Ilucidare prize, which showcases outstanding examples of heritage-led innovation and international relations around Europe. Congratulations! Europa Nostra is now calling for entries for the 2021 edition. More information about the awards, including how to apply, can be found on the Europa Nostra website.