IHBC 2020 Yearbook

16 Y E A R B O O K 2 0 2 0 CHAIR’S REVIEW CHARTERSHIP DEVELOPMENTS, NEW HORIZONS AND IN-BUILT RESILIENCE DAVID McDONALD, IHBC CHAIR I write this review having been in post as Chair of the IHBC for nine months, and as my predecessors have said, the time certainly does fly. That passage of time has certainly been exacerbated by the challenging times in which we live – but more of that later. First, I’d like to pay tribute to our former Chair, James Caird who has carefully steered us towards a new form of governance and modernised organisation to suit a range of future challenges. Having looked carefully at comparable organisations, he included the following proposals: a board of directors elected at AGM; a council with a core membership and branch representation; a committee and panel structure to deal with dayto-day business; a constitution built on ‘chartered institute’ principles; and the facility for membership and activities outside the UK. James’s work has undergone further refinements to take account of comments by members and then our solicitors, and a draft of the new articles of association should be ready for approval by our next AGM. I should like to comment on two aspects of these proposals: the potential to progress towards chartership and a transnational role. The advantage of chartership is essentially one of status. The more established professional institutes such as the RIBA, RTPI and RICS have had their charterships for many years. Others such as CIfA and APM have more recently sought chartership. Aspects of the IHBC’s governance and operation may be seen by the outside world as being rather inward looking. This is certainly not the case, and is one of the reasons that we are looking to improve our influence internationally. To this end, and in advance of our constitutional changes, we have been supporting the recently formed Commonwealth Heritage Forum. The organisation’s initial aim is to increase the understanding and knowledge of the Commonwealth’s built heritage, between its peoples and institutions. By sharing expertise, best practice and technical solutions to common conservation problems, the forum also intends to capitalise on opportunities for conservation-led regeneration, sustainable economic growth, skills development, education, training and youth programmes. One can only be impressed by its ambition. But what support is there for such an initiative? I was fortunate enough to attend the Forum’s launch earlier this year at Australia House in London. The event was well attended by both the heritage sector and representatives from Commonwealth embassies, and it was clear that there is an awareness of how important the historic environment is for economic development and tourism in many Commonwealth countries. The IHBC’s outward looking stance has also been demonstrated by joining the Climate Heritage Network and signing up to Heritage Declares. The Climate Heritage Network is an international coalition of organisations including various levels of government, NGOs, universities and businesses. Launched in the UK in October 2019, its starting point is that, ‘climate action is a cultural heritage issue’. While we support the general thrust of its aims, we are not certain that the appropriate balance has been struck between reducing energy use and protecting the historic environment. But we feel that it is better to influence this from within the organisation rather being outside it. Finally, I have to mention the current coronavirus epidemic. Like many organisations, the IHBC is having to make some difficult decisions. We have had to postpone the 2020 annual school, but we are holding a ‘virtual’ day school which will maintain our commitment to providing quality CPD for our members and the wider heritage sector. We are also conscious of the need to support members at this difficult time. To this end, up-dates are being provided in our regular Newsblogs. So, this appears to be a less than upbeat end to my first Chair’s Review. However, what has impressed me during the current crisis is the in-built resilience of the IHBC. This comes in part through its use of technology to allow remote meetings and events, but more importantly, it is because of the strength and commitment of its staff and volunteers. David McDonald is Chair of the IHBC (chair@ihbc.org.uk), having been a member since 1994. He worked for over 20 years at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea as Conservation and Design Team Leader and has a diploma in conservation from the Architectural Association.