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Icon ACR Conference 2020: Communication, language and impact

Icon ACR Conference 2020

The fourth annual Icon ACR Conference is taking place online in 2020 and will explore the theme of 'communication, language and impact'. Only open to Icon Accredited Members, the conference has been designed to support and inspire ACRs in their ongoing professional development. 

Across four weekly webinars, speakers from inside and outside of the profession will consider how conservators talk about what they do to promote their professional practice and how this contributes to the ongoing development of the profession as a whole.  

Responding to the current Covid-19 crisis, but mindful of the need continue to provide essential support to Accredited members, the conference has moved online and is being delivered across four 2-hour sessions each week. Presentations will be recorded and shared with all those who booked on to ensure that even if you can't join at the time you will still be able to access and benefit from the sessions. 

Find out more

25 June 2020 - Powerful communication in times of change
2 July 2020 - Influence and impact
9 July 2020 - Communicating conservation
16 July 2020 - Developing your digital marketing strategy



Following the opening address by James Grierson, this session will be delivered by Louise Lane of Culture Communications Collective who will provide an overview of strategic communications for organisations and individual practitioners as we navigate a radically changing world.

We will be looking at trends and attitudes relevant to our sector; identifying aims and audiences and how best to maximise powerful storytelling with creative tactics. We'll be discussing ideas for boosting brand or individual profile and impact in an interactive session which will include real life examples and expertise to stimulate your own thinking about profile-raising, influence and relevance in times of change.



James is a Chartered Surveyor who served as an Equity Partner and Board Member of an international real estate advisory practice. He has held non-executive positions in the NHS, Higher Education, Government and various commercial organisations. He is currently a Council Member at Durham University, a trustee of the York Foundation for Conservation & Craftsmanship and Chair of York Museums Trust.  James brings extensive commercial leadership and governance experience to Icon, along with a lifelong passion for cultural heritage.


Louise was a Director of the National Lottery Heritage Fund for nearly 20 years, overseeing PR, brand and public affairs and collaborating with many heritage and cultural bodies across the UK.  Her early career was in private sector agencies, delivering PR and Marketing strategies to support consumer, retail, fashion and technology brands. She is now a founding Associate with Culture Communications Collective, a group of experienced communications, marketing, public affairs and event professionals providing bespoke support for cultural, arts and heritage organisations. 



In this session we will be taking a look at the impact we have on the people around us.  We will be discussing the fact that how we show up is more important than how much we do, or how knowledgeable we are.

Often, we think that we need to have all the answers and be the best at what we do to get great results from others.  But positive influence on people brings confidence, capability and motivation for you and your team.  So instead of what we are doing, the more important consideration is how are we thinking and how we are being.  The way we show up with others will be the real driver of our success.



Julie Hutchison is a leadership and team performance specialist coach, working with technical experts who are now in leadership positions and want to grow their influence and impact as leaders. She was a police Inspector with Hertfordshire Constabulary for 16 years before leaving to start her own coaching business and in 2015 won Executive Coach of the year at The International Coaching Awards.  As Director of Think Be Do Leadership, she offers accessible and practical leadership coaching and training, focused on taking action and changing behaviours.



Through three interlinked talks, speakers will discuss the importance of strong communication in promoting the value and importance of conservation, for advocacy, training and caring for cultural heritage. 

“Bringing the Inside Out” A case study in Communications
Bridget Mitchell ACR

A personal account of the motivations to start communicating on social media

“Lockdown in Sudbury: Reaching across the Arts”
May Berkouwer ACR

The small market town of Sudbury in Suffolk offers a great of interesting local history, much of it related to the fantastically rich East Anglian medieval wool industry; this in turn connects directly to a silk weaving industry that is still active in the town today.

Based in Sudbury since the 90’s, people have over time become aware of our textile conservation work, through talks and open studio days, and this has led to increasing interaction and exchange.

The corona crisis is now seeing interconnected groups trying to support each other, and the town council recognising that the arts help keep the town economy and the threatened high street alive; they too are now showing an increased interest in championing this asset.

This short presentation looks at how snippets of local exchange can build up over time, and how lockdown can bring them that bit closer together.

The conservator as translator: enabling filming activities in fragile historic interiors through an understanding and appreciation of the different professional “languages” spoken within the heritage and filming industries
Helen Smith ACR

Helen will discuss how she works with both historic house teams and the film industry to enable safe filming practices in fragile heritage locations. With over twenty years’ experience, Helen has worked with large institutions through to private owners and with almost every type of film crew from student documentary makers to blockbuster film crews. She also has experience on both sides of the camera through participation in documentary style programmes. Helen will talk about how differences in professional language and vision between the heritage and filming industries can lead to unintentional conflict and how effective communication can often resolve misunderstandings, leading ultimately to a calm, damage-free and productive location shoot.



May Berkouwer runs a independent textile conservation studio in Sudbury, Suffolk.

May trained in Amsterdam during the 1980s, then came to the UK and worked first for the National Trust, then at Ksynia Marko’s Textile Conservation Studio in London.  Freelance in London from 1992, May moved to Sudbury in 1996 where she works with a small team on a wide range of textiles, including interior furnishings, tapestries, ecclesiastical textiles and costume.  Clients include National Trust, English Heritage, historic houses in the UK and Ireland, as well as museums, churches and private clients.

May was accredited in 1999 and became an Assessor in 2001.

She is a committee member of the Icon Historic Interiors Section.


Bridget Mitchell ACR is the owner of Arca Preservation, established in 2003 and specialising in the provision of preservation and display solutions for complex book and manuscript objects.  Her interest lies in saving the stories available within each object and developing storage, reading and display solutions that enable collections and collectors to keep using these objects and telling these stories safely.

Previously, Senior Book Conservator at the Victoria and Albert Museum for 9 years  and Book Conservation Assistant at the Bodleian Library she trained in the Conservation of Rare Books and Manuscripts with Chris Clarkson and David Dorning at West Dean College after learning Fine Bookbinding and Gold Finishing at Guildford Technical College with Maureen Duke and John Mitchell.


Helen (L) Smith ACR is an independent preventive conservator with special interests in IPM, lighting and filming in historic buildings. In 2011 Helen was appointed as Tate’s first dedicated preventive conservator and worked within the growing Tate preventive conservation team until January this year. Helen has continued her association with Tate as a freelance contractor. Prior to her time at Tate Helen was a senior preventive conservator for Historic Royal Palaces for over ten years. Helen runs a small business offering a range of preventive conservation services with a focus on supporting the activities and processes involved in allowing film crews to work in sensitive heritage locations. In this capacity her role is ultimately to enable the artistic intent of the camera crew without any damage being caused along the way. Helen celebrated achieving her ACR status in February 2019.



Whether just setting up, already established on your own, or keen to promote your skills and expertise in-house, this session will explore how you can use your Accredited Conservator status as one of your marketing assets. 

For many conservators, marketing may be a mystery or a chore. But investing time in some basics and with a considered strategy you can quickly reap rewards. Putting your hard earned ACR status to work should be central to this. Presenting marketing for non-marketing professionals, James will give guidance on creating your marketing strategy with tips, do’s and don’ts, and examples for building and maintaining a simple digital presence and building a digital profile that will work for you.



James Murphy is a Chartered Marketer with 20 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector. As Head of Digital and then Director of Global Communications at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), James led major transformation and content programmes that helped to attract new members, whilst elevating digital competence across the organisation. In 2018, James set up as a consultant to advise charities and membership organisations on developing organisational and communications strategies, adopting good digital governance, digital community developments and culture change initiatives. He holds a Master’s degree in History of Art from UCL and became a co-opted trustee of Icon in 2019.


Tickets are on sale for £10. This includes access to all four webinars. 



icon_-_approved_version_-_accredited_member_-_fit_to_artwork-01_4.jpg2020 marks the 20th Anniversary of Icon Accreditation. Throughout 2020 we will be celebrating the successes of professional conservators and highlighting the impact that Icon Accreditation has had on the conservation profession and for the care of our cultural heritage. Please click here to find out more >>