IHBC 2020 Yearbook

18 Y E A R B O O K 2 0 2 0 Parliamentary Group (APPG) on ‘Conservation, Places and People’ in Westminster. This will investigate and promote conservation that aligns with the IHBC’s charitable objects, and it will at last allow the IHBC to lead the agenda rather than react to it. However, the new APPG will require some investment and this might well be one of the few new threads that an economically straitened IHBC might well consider a priority. The IHBC’s Conservation Wiki platform is another development from recent years that, while requiring a comparatively large investment, again adds huge value to the profile of our members’ work. Setting our members’ specialist conservation practice alongside the likes of ICE, BRE, CIOB, BSRIA, CIAT and more, offers as impressive a line-up as when, more than a decade ago, we led joint consultation responses with the RTPI, RIBA, RICS and others. The Conservation Wiki adds substantially to our resilience, probably costs less overall than those historic policy partnerships, and reaches relevant practitioners more directly. New activities also have the potential for huge synergies in any post-pandemic IHBC, if approached with a little imagination. For example, our MATE sessions (Membership Application Training Events) which are part of a wider suite of free support events for prospective members, are offered free to everyone, including corporate bodies. These are now being extended with the MITE sessions (Membership Introduction Training Events), as short (approximately one hour) introductions, and MAGE sessions (Membership Accreditation Guidance Events), that operate as more intense three- to four-hour studio discussions, focussed on draft applications for accreditation. However, if handled carefully, there is no reason why this suite of free support should not be funded in some way. One option is to offer the opportunity for delegates or businesses to make donations to the CREATIVE Conservation Fund, and tie these through cross-promotion to support for our Conservation Wiki. This would not only extend our income stream but it would also promote greater awareness of conservation among some of the architectural practices and consultancies most involved in shaping our valued places. Another recent development that stands out is our new ‘Green Policy’ statement for the built and historic environment. This was to be launched at the Brighton School, but with the school postponed until 2021, we will instead advance this policy strategy within the global carbonconscious agenda that inspired it, online. Indeed, the policy was always seen as being a key component of our practitioners’ Toolbox which is freely accessible online, so the pandemic only highlights its operational fitness for the most modern of purposes. The annual school itself hasn’t been so fortunate, and a mass gathering in 2020 simply could not go ahead. So, we are going virtual with our 2020 school instead, building on past plans, pre-pandemic, and gathering thoughts for when and how we might meet in person again. Our ‘virtual’ conference is a challenge, but we will use the tragic turn of events from this pandemic to progress and improve services for the future. To help in that, please do join us online on 19 June 2020 and again, in person, in Brighton in 2021, as we confront the challenges in what we truly hope will be a post-pandemic world. Dr Seán O’Reilly is the Director of IHBC (director@ihbc.org.uk), joining in 2005 after working at the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland. He has contributed to and edited several journals, including volumes I to IV of Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies: The Journal of the Irish Georgian Society.