Becoming an Accredited Conservator-Restorer (ACR) demonstrates to clients, employers, and peers that an individual has an in-depth knowledge of conservation, a high degree of competence, sound judgement and a deep understanding of the principles which underpin their practice, by showing that they are proficient across Icon’s professional standards in conservation.
Over the last 20 years around 1,100 Icon members have been accredited as ACRs – Accredited Conservator-Restorers – through Icon’s flagship accreditation framework.
On average, 250 members per year continue to support and promote the peer review process. This is a great achievement and demonstrates the importance of professional accreditation and the value it offers to our members as they develop their conservation careers.
The framework itself has been reviewed and updated 5 times, to ensure that it continues to follow best practice and meets the needs of members and their clients.
Events planned for this celebratory year were somewhat affected by Covid-19, yet it did not stop the lively programme of activity to recognise this milestone year. Icon grasped the opportunity to demonstrate how Icon Accreditation delivers our key strategic priorities.
Our anniversary year activity to promote accreditation and our Icon Accredited members started with the rebranding of Accreditation. The first step was the development of a new logo solely for Icon Accredited members. Using the logo clearly indicates members’ Accredited status and highlights their commitment to working to high professional standards.
A video was produced to help Icon Accredited members to understand the benefits of promoting their ACR status.
A second video explains the value of appointing an ACR to clients, employers, and stakeholders.
Nicola Walker ACR wrote a blog to commemorate the occasion.
Icon’s vision is for cultural heritage to be valued and accessible and for its future to be enhanced and safeguarded by excellence in conservation. We aim to achieve this through building knowledge, championing high standards and valuing the conservation profession.
Icon runs an annual programme of events to support our members’ continuing professional development. Highlights this year included:
- Icon ACR Conference: The fourth annual ACR conference explored the theme of 'Communication, language and impact'. The ACR conference is designed specifically to support Icon Accredited members in their continuing professional development.
- Pathway Week 2020: Throughout the week of 20th July 2020, a series of webinars and networking opportunities took place to support Pathway members on their way to becoming Accredited members of Icon.
- Guidance and support for professional conservators: in 2020 the revised Icon Professional Standards as well as the development of the new Icon Ethical Guidance were adopted.
- Pilot of an online assessment process: to address the impact of lockdown, a new initiative to offer online assessment as an option was made available to help continue the flow of members seeking to gain accreditation, while still maintaining a robust and fair process. With this facility available, it is now providing an assessment route for international members. As noted in the Icon International Members Survey (January 2021), accreditation is seen as one of the main reasons to join Icon, “because it is the most famous and serious accreditation group for conservators and restorers, internationally well known, in the United Kingdom and abroad.”
Engagement is a key strategic priority for Icon, and we aim to encourage public awareness of conservation and participation in caring for our shared cultural heritage. We therefore try to find new and interesting ways to share our members’ work with the public and to raise the profile of what they do.
- Virtual Open Studios: Accredited conservators across the country opened their virtual doors to the public in September 2020 as part of the annual Heritage Open Days festival. This provided the opportunity to explore some of the work carried out by Icon Accredited conservators. As a legacy, this project will continue, and will be expanded to ensure that we showcase the full spectrum of conservation specialisms.
- Conservation Register relaunch: The newly redeveloped Conservation Register now provides a listing of all Icon Accredited members for the first time, allowing members of the public and those commissioning conservators to clearly and easily find the right professional for them. We also published Conservators You Can Trust – a guide to why Icon Accreditation matters and the benefits of working with an Icon Accredited conservator.
What did we achieve?
Outcomes from celebrating the 20th anniversary year include:
- Greater public engagement with conservation: Virtual Open Studios received 1,243 pageviews in the initial nine-month period
- Improved access to CPD (Continuing Professional Development) events for members
I have not been able to find time to attend ACR conferences in the past, but the online delivery and weekly sessions made attending much easier to fit around work commitments - I hope this format might continue in the future for CPD events even when face-to-face meetings are possible again.
- 22 new Accredited Conservators (ACRs) who were assessed via the online assessment process including one member based in Australia and another in North America
- A greater uptake of conservators working towards accreditation as Pathway members and between September 2020 to March 2021
Icon is committed to ensuring that our accreditation framework and processes continue to demonstrate the high standards that were originally set in 2000 when the scheme was first created. Towards the end of 2020, we started a new project to design a more interactive means for members to access the accreditation application documentation and support material and provide a more efficient way to manage the accreditation process. This will provide a more efficient way to manage the accreditation process and a better user experience for Icon members.
Icon Accreditation is at the core of Icon’s purpose and building on its success will continue to be part of Icon’s future strategic objectives.
The PACR (Professional Association of Conservator-Restorer) framework was originally initiated by the National Council for Conservation-Restoration (NCCR). The licence was transferred to Icon in 2005. More information about the history of accreditation is available on the Icon website.