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22.05.2020

Icon expresses concern over National Trust for Scotland emergency proposals

Icon Chief Executive Sara Crofts has written to the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) and the Scottish Government to express alarm at the Trust’s announcement of emergency actions in response to the impact of the Coronavirus (Covid-19).

In a letter to NTS Chief Executive Simon Skinner, Sara offered Icon’s support to help protect the organisation’s future. While expressing regret over a scaled back post-lockdown offering, Sara welcomed the Trust’s plan to implement a programme of monitoring and maintenance of sites. Skilled conservation teams will be needed to successfully reopen sites by assessing the likelihood of risks, preparing for actions to resolve collections care issues and undertake appropriate treatment of damage. “We trust that a suitable number of skilled conservators will be retained within the NTS staff in order to support this vital activity” Sara stated.

Icon’s letter reminded Skinner of the longer-term benefit of investing in conservation skills: “In the aftermath of the pandemic, organisations will need to describe their contribution to economic rebuilding and society’s recovery...The Trust’s iconic landscapes, irreplaceable buildings and outstanding collections and the skilled workforce that cares for them will be essential to evidencing its relevance and making a successful case for support.” 

Icon reiterated its concerns over the proposed emergency actions in a letter to Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, and urgently requested the leader and her officials to take proactive steps to protect the organisation’s future. Icon commended the Scottish Government’s decision to establish a taskforce to support the organisation and expressed hope that it would “result in a solution that allows sites to open, crucial jobs to be retained and that respects the Trust’s independence.” Sara warned that the decline of a national institution as symbolic as the NTS would risk sending a dangerous message undermining the value of cultural heritage. 

Skinner has since thanked Icon for its offer of support and confirmed that the Trust’s conservation capabilities would be carefully reviewed as part of its future business strategy. Icon looks forward to working with the Trust and Scottish Government in supporting the cultural heritage sector throughout the pandemic. 

Find out more about our recent advocacy and policy work related to the Coronavirus here.

Access our main Coronavirus support pages here

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