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Subject: Convergence of UK conservation organizations

Convergence of UK conservation organizations

From: Susan Hughes <consawards>
Date: Monday, July 5, 2004
NCCR (the National Council for Conservation-Restoration) is keen to
ensure the circulation of correct information regarding the
convergence process that is currently taking place amongst the
professional bodies in the UK and Ireland. This can be found in the
following Convergence Factsheet .

Convergence--A Factsheet

National Council for Conservation-Restoration (NCCR) The National
Council for Conservation-Restoration is made up of 12 bodies*,
together representing approximately 4000 individual members. More
information on NCCR, its member bodies and convergence can be found
at <URL:>.

    *   UKIC (United Kingdom Institute for Conservation); IPC
        (Institute of Paper Conservation), SSCR (Scottish Society
        for Conservation and Restoration), CCF (Care of Collections
        Forum); PhMCG (Photographic Materials Conservation Group);
        IPCRA (Irish Professional Conservators' and Restorers'
        Association); ICHAWI (Institute for the Conservation of
        Historic and Artistic Works in Ireland;  SoA (Society of
        Archivists); BHI (British Horological Institute); NatSCA
        (Natural Sciences Collections Association); BAFRA (British
        Antique Furniture Restorers' Association); BAPCR (British
        Association of Paintings Conservator-Restorers).

March 2002:  a new shared purpose

In March 2002, the member bodies agreed unanimously "to explore the
possibility of dissolving all existing structures and creating a new
single body representing the whole of the conservation profession".
It was agreed that, above all sectoral or factional interests, the
ultimate rationale for doing this must be the good of the cultural
heritage, also that:

    *   the new body will be a wholly new body, not a re-vamped
        version of NCCR, UKIC or any other pre-existing body;

    *   it will be inclusive and cross-domain, seeking to unite both
        the conservation profession and the wider community of
        conservation-related managers, technicians, volunteers,
        craftspeople, scientists etc;

    *   it will seek to be independent, forward-looking, flexible
        and cost-effective, providing efficient services to its
        members and to the public and promoting conservation at all

Convergence process

The process of moving towards a single unified body has been called
convergence. Since March 2002, NCCR has met regularly to pursue this
aim and to undertake other activities aiming to draw its members
closer together and build on previous achievements such as the
Professional Accreditation of Conservator-Restorers scheme and the
Conservation Register. The member organisations have been supported
by activists, external advisers and independent consultants.
Resources have come from individuals' own time, NCCR membership fees
and additional voluntary contributions from several of the member
organisations.  External funding has been received from English
Heritage (EH) and the Anna Plowden Trust. Councils, committees,
members and stakeholders have been informed and consulted; web sites
have carried information; articles, features and correspondence,
both for and against convergence, have appeared regularly in the
professional journals and newsletters and in other publications such
as the Museums Journal and the National Preservation Office Journal.

Convergence status of individual NCCR organisations In terms of
their involvement with convergence, NCCR member organisations fall
into the following groups:

    *   The Vanguard group: the five organisations (UKIC, IPC, SSCR,
        CCF, PhMCG) that declared themselves willing to make
        convergence a priority and to lead the moves towards a new
        single body. Together, these five constitute over two-thirds
        of NCCR's total individual membership.

    *   Ireland: two groups, IPCRA and ICHAWI, cover both Northern
        Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. They therefore cannot
        formally converge but support convergence and want to remain
        closely involved with the process.

    *   The "Hybrids": three of the groups (SoA, BHI and NatSCA) are
        organisations with mixed memberships and a majority of
        non-conservation professionals. As such, convergence has
        never been directly applicable to them. However, in view of
        our overlapping membership and shared interests, special
        reciprocal arrangements are currently being explored. It is
        likely that many of their conservation members will belong
        to both organisations.

    *   Trade Associations: two organisations, BAFRA and BAPCR,
        could have joined the Vanguard group but, so far, have opted
        as organisations not to do so. Many of their individual
        members already belong to Vanguard bodies.

    *   The Institute of Conservation Science has been invited to
        join NCCR, to participate in meetings and to join the
        Vanguard group. A vote to join the NCCR convergence process
        is imminent.

The Convergence Consultation and Feedback

In September 2003 BlueSpark Consulting, in the person of Mike
Caudrey, was appointed through competition to put together formal
proposals for a new structure, in consultation with the member
organisations. In January 2004, 4250 free printed copies of the
Consultation Document and Feedback Questionnaire were circulated by
NCCR organisations to their individual members, with the exception
of BAFRA, NatSCA and the Irish organisations who opted not to do so.

Over 445 questionnaires were returned, representing 619 individual
members (not including in this count overseas and institutional
members). 175 people sent in additional comments and 6 collective
responses were received. In comparative terms, this represents
overall a very healthy 19% response rate. The number of respondents
with multiple memberships came to 180. These people are currently
paying between two and six separate membership fees.

86% of respondents agreed with all the recommendations made.
Significantly, 85% said they were prepared to pay the membership
fees proposed, so putting the Business Plan onto a more solid
footing. A number of considered questions and real concerns were
raised. These provide the grit to form the pearl and are being
actively addressed. A comprehensive Feedback report and 3-page
summary was posted on NCCR and other members' web sites in May 2004.

Regional and national agendas

Alongside other work on convergence, 11 roadshows, organised by
Caroline Saye and Susan Bradshaw, have taken place at venues across
the UK and Ireland, encouraging debate and informing conservation
professionals and other stakeholders about progress on
accreditation, the Conservation Register and convergence. In
parallel with this, information has been gathered on the major
changes and initiatives currently taking place in each nation and
region and impacting on conservation and on conservation policies
there. These papers form profiles to be used in supporting regional
and national conservation networks and their involvement with
relevant partners and agencies.


A consultation has been carried out by Dr. Stan Lester to explore
the needs of the wider conservation community of volunteers,
assistants, technicians, managers, scientists and advisers in terms
of their recognition and status within the new conservation body.
The conclusions from this study are being integrated into the
planning for the new organisation.

Current activity

    *   The final version of the Business Plan is nearing completion
        and indicates a financially robust organisation, with
        adequate reserve levels and operating surpluses.

    *   More detailed work has been done on issues to do with the
        financial and operational autonomy of the specialist and
        other groups, the continuation of much-valued publications,
        events and core services. This discussion is now being
        opened up very broadly to a mixed group of individual
        members who have come forward from across NCCR.

    *   Plans are being made for a Membership Forum for the new
        Institute. This will ensure that information and learning
        can be shared and that members' voices are heard effectively
        at all levels throughout the new organisation.

    *   A short Prospectus for the new body is being prepared,
        describing in straightforward terms what the new
        organisation will mean in practice from an individual
        member's point-of-view: what will change, what will not, how
        things will work. This will be published and disseminated in
        advance of the votes and in order to inform them.

    *   Discussions are underway to work out the new body's future
        relationship with the "Hybrids" and the Irish groups, as
        well as with external sister organisations such as the
        Museums Association.

    *   Work is nearing completion on the specifications for the new
        membership database and web site. These will provide both an
        interactive means of communication for all members across
        the world and a source of workforce information and
        statistics to underpin research and development. This work
        is being carried out by Dr. Stan Lester, with support from
        EH, BlueSpark Consulting and Susan Hughes and advice from a
        range of stakeholders.

    *   It has been agreed that the new organisation will need a
        start-up phase of 12-24 months. This will provide the
        necessary transition period for the new systems and
        structures to be tested, evaluated, amended and

Setting up the new organisation

Steps are being taken to ensure that the new organisation can be set
up as a registered charity (a charitable company limited by
guarantee) and that NCCR can be wound down, as agreed at its 2004


On the basis of the Feedback, and in deference to both our
charitable aims and our membership, we have agreed provisionally
that the new body should be called simply The Institute of
Conservation, with a strapline that highlights the inclusive nature
of the organisation.

Voting for the new organisation

The Vanguard members will all hold their votes in the same week:
27th September 2004 PhMCG; 28th UKIC, 29th SSCR, 30th IPC, 1st
October CCF. A strong majority vote will give the new Institute the
endorsement, support and critical mass necessary for it to become
the efficient, effective organisation we all wish it to be.

Carole Milner, Chair NCCR, June 2004.

Notes: The term "conservation" is intended throughout to be
synonymous with the preservation, protection, care and restoration
of cultural heritage.

More detailed information and documents can be found at

                  Conservation DistList Instance 18:6
                   Distributed: Friday, July 9, 2004
                        Message Id: cdl-18-6-003
Received on Monday, 5 July, 2004

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