Islands Incubator success
A blog by Alex Lamont Bishop, INTO Deputy Secretary-General
In September 2023, we were delighted to host the Islands Incubator, a programme of sharing and learning that brought together leaders from four of our member trusts working on islands.
The INTO Incubator is a flagship programme for INTO, a week’s learning and sharing that explores how to best run your National Trust and an excellent opportunity to learn from the best practice of others.
Our Islands Incubator started out as a series of applications to our TAP INTO grants programme, which supports staff from INTO member organisations to share learning in person. INTO combined four applications into a single programme, visiting sites across England. This approach maximised benefits, as our Caribbean colleagues had the opportunity to learn and exchange with each other as well as with their English hosts.
Whilst the visitors were busy learning from the National Trust, knowledge was also flowing in the opposite direction. Many National Trust places have a deep historical connection to the Caribbean. By visiting sites like Snowshill and Dyrham Park, the UK teams were able to benefit from an enriched understanding of their own site’s histories.
The Islands Incubator programme had a dual focus: operational models that can be adapted for use in different contexts and exploring shared histories between the Caribbean and UK. Discussions focused on topics including business modelling for heritage sites, prioritisation with limited resources and the importance of an outdoors offer for repeat visitation.
There was great scope for conversations about shared heritage. The deep connection between Snowshill Manor in England and the island of St Kitts is Charles Wade, who divided his time between the two places. His homes and collections are also in the care of the Saint Christopher National Trust. At Dyrham Park, we built on previous conversations exploring the property’s connections to Barbados and Jamaica.
At INTO we are already hard at work to bring to life some of the connections between the two regions. We will continue to support members as they deepen these connections via research or curatorial projects. More on this to come.
We are also working on our next instalment of the Islands Incubator, due to take place in 2024. In this programme we plan to pivot to a focus on natural heritage. We will explore best practice for caring for natural heritage sites, with a focus delivering a successful business model.
We are grateful for the generous support of the Helen Hamlyn Trust, which funds our TAP INTO and Incubator programmes.
Participating trusts in the Islands Incubator
St Kitts & Nevis