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I’m writing this report for our Trustees meeting on 8 September. We had hoped to gather in person, as guests of our INTO Ambassador, His Highness The Maharaja Gaj Singh II Of Marwar-Jodhpur. But like so many things, this meeting will now take place virtually.
Fortunately, our leadership team is very used to meeting online. Needless to say, we will miss seeing each other and experiencing together the beautiful heritage of Rajasthan. I’m deeply grateful, however, to all our Trustees for their knowledge, passion and commitment. Particularly when they have so much on their plates with their own organisations.
The pandemic has been a test of character and determination for people all over the world. Nothing can compare to the sacrifices made on the front line. And our hearts go out to all those who have suffered. In a business context, our CEOs have faced the ultimate leadership test. As Natalie Bull said on our April call ‘we’ve been drinking from the fire hose’. But now we’re moving from ‘quick fixes’ to taking decisions about the long-term. Which is much, much harder to get right.
Our Trustees will grapple with some questions to which we don’t really have answers. But I know they will do it with purpose, compassion and in a spirit of collaboration that embodies the values of the INTO movement.
– Catherine, Alex and the Secretariat team
We welcomed new members, Legacy 1995 – this is their flagship property, Jaekel House, in the heart of LagosWe published the results of our survey into Impact of COVID-19 on heritage sites of the world’s National Trusts Here’s Nadia Hardie of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands in PPE kit funded through the TAP-INTO scheme!We facilitated volunteer support for the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago in reviewing their website, including reference to the NTEWNI style guideThe INTO Secretariat team got together for a socially-distanced visit to Dyrham ParkFAI will feature in the INTO column in the NTEWNI’s next member magazineWe’ve continued to run our webinar programme and the July session on reopening is available as a podcast here
Here is the new fundraiser on our GlobalGiving platform in aid of the Saint Lucia National Trust
Catherine recorded a short clip for Heritage New Zealand’s membership newsletter
INTO Antwerp: Last month, we published the results of our survey on the Impact of COVID-19 on heritage sites of the world’s National Trusts. This is part of the project we are working on with American Express on sustainable tourism, a key theme of the next Conference.
The survey revealed that the pandemic is straining the financial and programmatic sustainability of many INTO members. At the same time, National Trusts have found new and creative ways to build resilience to the global health and financial crises. The next step of the project will pull together research and case studies into a draft report.
At the Board meeting, we will discuss options for virtualising the Conference and postponing the actual Antwerp gathering. Watch this space for more news.
Reciprocal visiting: We are forging ahead with plans for an INTO global heritage pass in 2021. Twenty-four INTO members have signed the MOU and we are now preparing a Communications Kit to share with them. Given the ongoing difficulties with international travel, we envisage a flexible and incremental approach, beginning with a soft launch in January. Details of which INTO members are involved will be available on the new INTO website in a few months’ time.
Working holidays: Sadly, so many of these wonderful opportunities were cancelled this year. However, we have had some good feedback on our application for a new working holidays-themed project. If successful, this would see colleagues from REMPART, the NTEWNI and the National Trust of Georgia collaborating on the rehabilitation of medieval tower.
Technical Assistance Programme: We plan to launch another round of TAP-INTO after the Incubator and focussed on its themes of property management, membership, volunteering and commercial activities. These will inevitably be mostly virtual interventions.
We were blown away by Ken Smith’s review of the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago’s website last month, undertaken as a volunteer on furlough leave from the NTEWNI.
Covid-19 response: We’re slowly processing the receipts for our special C-19 TAP-INTO grants. 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.
May, June and July were still full of weekly updates (like this on communicating through covid), member webinars (here’s one on reopening from May) and resource pooling (again on reopening). This month, we have begun to focus more on new projects and activities. You can however still access resources via our dedicated webpage.
Membership growth: We are delighted to welcome our newest members, both from Nigeria. Legacy (The Historical and Environmental Interest Group of Nigeria) and the West African Shared Cultural Heritage Trust (WASCHT).
Legacy was established in 1995 for people who are interested in promoting and preserving the built, natural and cultural heritage of Nigeria. Legacy aims to conserve heritage sites and provide a recorded legacy for future generations. Legacy is a membership organisation, with a board of trustees and patrons and a busy committee of volunteers that carries out its activities. They run awareness raising programmes for both adults and children.
WASCHT is a new body seeking to provide financial intelligence and business incubation for
Regional events: We had plans for actual meetings of INTO Asia, INTO Americas and INTO Europe this year, following the successful INTO Africa gathering. Plans for virtualising the first two are well underway.
We are convening INTO Asia as part of a partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum and BPPI Indonesia. Two virtual sessions are planned which will explore firstly how heritage NGOs can maximise and amplify their voices when the sector is challenged or planned development threatens, drawing on case studies and experiences from the past. And secondly future trends post-pandemic and how to balance dynamic development with heritage values and priorities.
We are delighted to be working in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation on bringing island perspectives to their virtual Past Forward conference this year. The INTO Americas session will involve colleagues from Bermuda, Saint Lucia, Puerto Rico and Haiti. They will speak about putting sustainability at the heart of their work, and the challenges and opportunities of working in these unique environments. More information on both of these opportunities to follow!
Working with the Czech National Trust, we have successfully bid for an Erasmus+ grant. This will fund the exchange of knowledge and experience between several other INTO Europe members, including the National Trusts for Scotland and Slovakia, Herita and FAI. The project will begin at the end of this year, with first travel planned for April 2021.
Together with the webinar series, these virtual events are also contributing to our Voice strategy (see below).
Incubator: Alex and Emma are working hard on the virtual programme which will be delivered at the end of September. This involves making various short films of the NTEWNI properties they would have visited and rejigging the curriculum to suit a Zoom environment. No small task! It should see around half a dozen new organisations joining the INTO ranks, including Trusts from Albania and Bosnia through Jamaica and Kosovo to Slovenia and Singapore!
Cultural Protection Fund grant: Thanks to Alex’s hard work, we are part of a new CPF project. This will see us delivering online training with the Petra National Trust to Yemeni heritage experts. Again, we are enormously grateful to INTO members who have agreed to have their contributions filmed in advance. These include the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago, REMPART, the Czech National Trust and the CCFU. Let’s hope that next time, we can deliver it in person in Jordan!
Articles and media: David Brown’s excellent article on the impacts of Covid-19 was the most viewed post on our website (by far) recently. Catherine’s short video along similar lines for Heritage New Zealand was also well-received. (Although rather low-tech as Emma was still away at the time!) You can read their newsletter and check out the clip here. This proved the starting point for a longer article in their forthcoming magazine, which we will signpost you to when it’s published. There will be a small feature on FAI’s response to the pandemic in the INTO column in the NTEWNI’s next magazine (see left).
New website: The new INTO website is back on track! We are now working flat out with the developers to deliver this by November. Emma will be preparing a lot of the new content over the coming weeks. She is also writing a new social media strategy.
Webinars: Our last webinar was an reopening discussion between representatives from three European Trusts: the NTEWNI, FAI and the Gelderland Trust in the Netherlands. The webinar is now available as a podcast that you can access here. The site managers involved talk candidly about what’s been happening, sharing observations and recommendations on what has and has not worked. It’s a great conversation so do have a listen if you can! (There is also a written summary we can share if you would like.)
The June 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!
And in May, we held a webinar on planning with the NTEWNI, National Trust for Jersey and National Trust for Fiji. It was attended by 20 representatives of INTO member organisations. What stood out was the shared challenge INTO members are facing as governments try to build their way out of the coronavirus crisis. And how we need to build the case for heritage as part of post-corona recovery.
Excellence Awards: We were due to start inviting INTO members to submit entries for our 2021 Awards but will discuss practicalities with the Board in September.
Innocastle: We will be participating in a virtual event at the end of September involving other INTO Europe members. We submitted our latest claim last month and have been continuing to provide case studies and information from the NTEWNI and wider INTO network. Our involvement will begin to lessen following this semester, with a concomitant reduction in funding.
Climate Heritage Network: We were delighted that our nominee (Elizabeth Erasito) as Co-Chair for the Climate Heritage Network’s Asia-Pacific region is working its way through the system. We were also pleased to hear that their application for funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) has been successful. We will have a small role to play through the INTO Africa network.
Ambassadors: We have recruited three Ambassadors and have feelers out to one or two more. It has not been a good year for the sort of activities we might have hoped to involve Ambassadors (and potential ones) in.
Governance: We published our 2019 Annual Report in June. Emma, our Communications Assistant was still on furlough so we had to cobble it together a bit. In case you missed it, it’s available here as an e-book or as a download from our website or condensed into a 1-minute video here!). Flicking back through it, I’m reminded of all the travelling and connecting we normally do here at INTO. How times have changed.
Our next Trustees meeting will be held virtually over three days in September. Our last face-to-face was in New York in 2018. It was a wonderful meeting that brought us closer to our hosts, the US National Trust, and to each other. One of the main tasks this year is to refresh our strategic plan. We have already begun quizzing the Trustees about this via an online survey and it looks like we’ll have some great ideas to discuss.
Stakeholder network: Building on the response to our Annual Report mailing, we are developing a new stakeholder network with the aim of reviving and growing the Amicus programme.
Fundraising: We helped the Saint Lucia National Trust with a new fundraiser; and we’ve had some good successes with grant applications working closely with our members, as outlined above, and another few in the pipeline. This really is to be celebrated and is exactly what we hoped for when we recruited Alex into the Deputy Secretary-General role.
(For the May Board meeting, we shared our latest Report to the Helen Hamlyn Trust, which is why this report runs from May to August.)
On 26 August, we celebrate the first sixty years of the National Trust of Zimbabwe. INTO Chair, Dame Fiona Reynolds, said “The NT Zimbabwe has achieved so much to be proud of in its 60 years, including a remarkable and beautiful property portfolio, and a range of activities and campaigns through which you stand up for the natural, built and cultural heritage of Zimbabwe”.
The INTO Board of Trustees will meet on 8, 9 and 11 September. Watch this space for news of INTO’s refreshed strategic plan!
Innocastle’s Mid-term Conference will take place on 24 September and will explore the adaptation of European country houses in (post) Covid times.
Our online Incubator runs from 28-30 September.
INTO Asia will meet on 5 and 6 October – put these dates in your diaries and more information will be available soon!
Catherine’s blogs are available here.
Find out more about the INTO Amicus supporters programme here.
The International National Trusts Organisation (INTO) is a non-profit organisation registered as a charity England and Wales (No 1175994). The Secretariat is based at our registered address, 20 Grosvenor Gardens, London SW1W 0DH, UK.