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Subject: Accreditation


From: Simon Barcham Green <simongreen>
Date: Friday, May 7, 1999
One of the main problems in this area seems to me that the
traditional professions, law, medicine and some older ones set up
their guilds without debate and thus bootstrapped a process which
now means that whatever the ancient flaws, new entrants are assessed
only by those who were also assessed by their predecessors. Whether
or not this works is another matter.

A few years ago the Institute of Paper Conservation, of which I was
then Chairman, became a founder member of ECCO--the European
Confederation of Conservator-Restorers' Organisations. The initial
meetings were extremely dull, taken up with debates about whether
"restorers" were conservators and the like.

    [The problem, for those who don't know, is that in France a
    "conservateur" is what would be called a "curator" in English
    and "conservateurs" therefore strongly object to the idea of
    mere "restorers" using the term "conservator". Such are the
    problems of regulation in a multi-lingual framework. One can
    only respect the rights of francophones to use their own
    language properly but it does seem a pity that the UK
    organisations are now going to use the clumsy expression
    conservator-restorer too. I remain very worried about the whole
    concept of restoration.]

Some member organisations were insistent that organisations could
only belong if their membership was entirely comprised of accredited
members. This of course begged the question of how such
organisations had carried out the accreditation process. The answer
according to one very important person was that all her members were
accredited because she and her committee had known them for years!

I have not been following the UK discussion very closely as I now
only have a very peripheral interest in the field. I certainly have
reservations about the Fast Track process but, from what I can make
of it, those trying to solve the riddle are making a very careful
attempt to deal with the problem of booting the system up. It may
not be perfect but it is undoubtedly a lot better than the
"grandparent" clause proposed by one large conservation organisation
a decade or more ago.

Incidentally I don't know whether it is clear from the debate that
in most EU countries it is illegal to practice a profession without
being accredited. Professions are much more widely defined to
include hairdressers, plumbers and maybe even humble papermakers!
There is pressure to apply this to all EU members. There is the risk
therefore that a conservator accredited--by whatever process, good
or bad, from some EU countries could practice in the UK whereas the
most highly regarded UK professional could be precluded from doing
so in other EU countries. This may be academic to US citizens
(though there are a good few of them working in the UK and other
parts of Europe) but it is going to become increasingly important to
UK citizens.

Simon Green

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:86
                   Distributed: Monday, May 10, 1999
                       Message Id: cdl-12-86-011
Received on Friday, 7 May, 1999

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