October 6, 2022
INTO Dundee 2022
A blog by Catherine Leonard, INTO Secretary-General
National Trusts are fundamentally about engaging people with the places, stories and issues that matter to them. So, everyone had a stake in the theme of INTO Dundee 2022, Heritage Now: Relevance and Community.
Many of us came to Scotland to think about how to make our work more essential. How to engage with different communities. What we need to do to make the stories we tell more inclusive. And we discovered that, as a global movement, we are already doing so much that is really good.
It was brilliant to hear committed voices from around the world and to feel a real sense of shared purpose, shared values and a shared vision for our great international National Trust movement.
Learning and sharing is at the heart of all that we do at INTO. And we all left Dundee with new ideas, the beginnings of new projects and new friendships forged amongst our inspirational and culturally diverse network.
With Vernon Rapley, Director of Cultural Heritage Protection and Security at the Victoria & Albert Museum, I had the joyous task of summing up the conference. I spoke about what particularly resonated for INTO. And in particular three conference C’s: Confidence, connectedness and change.
Our first keynote speaker, Bernard Donoghue, CEO of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), told us ‘we’ve never been more loved’ and even though what we do is sometimes hard, we all felt a renewed sense of energy and purpose. Katherine Malone France, Chief Preservation Officer at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, spoke about a sector which was evolving, expanding and empowering.
There was some challenge too. To go further. To not just reopen our doors to the same old crowd as before the pandemic. To be disruptive and provocative. And none of us will forget the speech of Sir Geoff Palmer from Heriot-Watt University and his call to ‘just tell the truth’.
We all left Dundee feeling braver, taller and richer. Knowing that we are not alone.
It was wonderful to come together in person for the first time since 2019 but in many ways we haven’t been apart.
When we established INTO, we wanted it to replicate the atmosphere of the conference. To be a place where great networking, learning, problem solving and ideas generation could happen 24/7. Not just for a few days every couple of years.
The Secretariat team is getting better and better at delivering this objective. Particularly over the pandemic, when the INTO family actually felt more connected than ever. But you have different conversations when you eat together, meet over coffee or a shared experience – be that on a bus, at a beautiful place or dancing a ceilidh! That’s when the magic really happens.
Next year, we’ll be building on all this great connectedness with the second phase of our Helen Hamlyn Trust grant, which we were delighted to announce in Dundee. This includes a brand new heritage leaders programme, as well as more TAP-INTO support and further editions of the INTO Incubator.
Don’t get discouraged; get connected. Come to INTO Conference, whether that’s online or in person, find some like-minded people and work together to change the world!
We are living in times of extraordinary change. Economic, social, political, environmental. And it’s easy to sometimes feel overwhelmed. Particularly by climate change. But we can achieve so much more when we come together as communities – communities of interest, local communities, communities of practice, communities of action.
And so, it was great to hear what National Trusts are doing around the world to deliver community-led climate action. We’ll be exploring these further via our Climate and Nature knowledge sharing programme, INTO CAN (the climate version of RISE) and we’ll also be sharing our learning and experience at COP27 next month.
It was also fantastic to learn about and celebrate the very best of our members’ work in the INTO Excellence Awards 2022.
The conference was a partnership and we’re hugely grateful to all our hosts for the wonderful and warm welcome we have received. V&A Dundee, National Trust for Scotland and Culture in Crisis. Thanks too are due to our sponsors and supporters, but especially those that helped enable the attendance of such a wide range of countries – American Express, the Helen Hamlyn Trust, Visit Scotland and the 1772 Foundation. Thank you all for your confidence and support.
I’m indebted to the steering committee for their regular meetings and preparation of the conference programme. And to the whole INTO Secretariat team, without whom none of this would have happened.
But lastly, thanks to our delegates. Thank you for your friendship, for inspiring us all, for embracing the adventure of joining us here in Dundee; for your hard work, your patience and help without which INTO would not exist and this Conference would not have been the success it’s been.
The keynote and plenary sessions at INTO Dundee were recorded and will be used in a webinar series next year in collaboration with the V&A to ensure their wider disseminationFind out more here
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