Development, Governance and Accreditation

Giles Gould

It’s exciting times at the New Forest Heritage Centre. In the past few months we’ve appointed both Museum Designers, Imagemakers and Retail Designers, CRE8

For those of you who don’t know the process that museums generally follow as they seek to redevelop, or establish a new gallery, there is a well-structured pathway that makes sure we all don’t stray too far from the path!

These are the eight Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) stages,

0 – Strategic Definition.

1 – Preparation and Brief.

2 – Concept Design.

3 – Developed Design.

4 – Technical Design.

5 – Construction.

6 – Handover and Close Out.

7 – In use.

We’ve been working hard to progress through these RIBA stages, and are now at the end of stage 2, Concept Design. This in turn becomes stage 3, Developed Design, which will be complete by the end of March 2020. We’ve been working hard with all our partners and stakeholders, such as New Forest District Council, Forestry England, The New Forest National Park Authority, Lyndhurst Parish Council, The Friends of the New Forest, The Commoners Defence Association, and Go New Forest, to name a few.

It’s certainly at the forefront of our minds that we are our customers’ and partners’ Heritage Centre, not our Heritage Centre, so its essential that the story we tell, the interpretation we use and the messaging we put forward must be co-ordinated, clear and appropriate. However, we do take care to make sure we maintain our politically neutral stance, not taking sides in arguments. It is our mission to preserve, interpret and share the Forest’s heritage, not to pass judgement on it.

So, work continues apace, and soon you’ll see the plans, and of course, hear our messages seeking support. However, its not too late to have your own say in the what our galleries might look like and what stories they might tell, so do get in touch with me directly as soon as possible.

Another key piece of work on my desk is that of a change of governance. This is a detailed, and somewhat challenging process, but it’s integral to the continued success of the Centre. Since 1987 the Centre was essentially controlled by the New Forest Ninth Centenary Trust (NFNCT), but on 1st February 2020 this changed. A new charity has been created, the New Forest Heritage Trust, and the assets and responsibilities of the NFNCT recently transferred over to the new charity. This makes no difference at all to those visiting or using the Centre in any way at all, but it does leave us in a position where we are able to take advantage of a number of tax efficient schemes, as well as protecting our directors from any personal liability surrounding debt.

Finally, I am currently working through the process of reapplying for Accreditation. Accreditation is an Arts Council scheme, which recognises those museums which care for their visitors, their collections and their governance to the highest of standards There are a whole range of criteria that we have to fulfil, not least those of best practice in collections care, laid out under Spectrum 5

The Centre has been a fully accredited museum for many years now, and such accreditation is both a clear recognition of what we do, but also sends a clear message to funders, donors, visitors and volunteers, that we are committed to the highest of standards, and whilst we recognise that ourselves, this is supported by those who hold us to the highest of standards.

That’s more than enough from me for the time being, and I hope to see many of you soon at one of the numerous events we have planned for the near future, some of which you can already buy tickets on-line via our website, so watch out for those, but if I don’t and you would like to discuss anything, do please pop in and see me, or get in touch