A summary of Icon's achievements in the year 2019-2020
Chief Executive’s Summary
When I joined Icon as Chief Executive last January, I knew that my first year in post would be exciting and rewarding, and I was thoroughly looking forward to the challenge. I can now say that my expectations and hopes have been surpassed by a considerable margin. A great deal has been achieved during a busy and productive financial year, although it ended on something of a cliff-hanger as we all waited nervously to see just what lockdown would mean for Icon and for our members. Several months later it is still not clear what the medium and longer term impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic will be, and so we find ourselves planning for a future that looks more uncertain than ever.
However, the publication of the annual Impact Report should be a time to reflect on a different C-word, by which I mean that I want to focus on celebrating our achievements.
So, here are three C-word highlights from the year that give a flavour of our work to champion the conservation of objects and collections and our impact.
Our first C-word is conference. The Icon triennial conference (Icon19) which took place in Belfast in June was a phenomenal success, attracting 362 delegates, including an international cohort as a result of funding received from the Getty Foundation. The main event took place over two very full days in the Internal Conference Centre on Belfast’s attractive waterfront and offered a packed programme on the theme of New Perspectives: Contemporary Conservation Thinking and Practice. The fact that the conference programme committee received 254 abstract submissions to fill 90 slots on the programme testifies to the high regard in which Icon’s triennial conference is held, and also demonstrates the range and scale of imoprtant research and development being pioneered by conservators working across our broad range of disciplines.
The second C-word success was the relaunch of the redeveloped Conservation Register, our online directory of Icon Accredited Conservators. This was a genuine milestone for Icon, as plans to restructure and revitalise the Register have been on the cards for a number of years. We are sincerely grateful for the generous funded provided by the Pilgrim Trust and the Anna Plowden Trust, as well as a private donor. Their support enabled us to create a modern, engaging, and visually-oriented platform to showcase our ACR members. This new resource has already attracted positive feedback from stakeholders and we hope that the Conservation Register will regain its rightful place as the ‘go to’ resource for anyone seeking a conservator that they can trust to care for and conserve their precious objects, heirlooms and collectables.
And our final celebratory C-word for this year is communications. Over the last twelve months we have been gradually rethinking our approach to external communications and have formed a Communications Team within Icon for the first time. We have put a great deal of effort into crafting a communication strategy and to significantly increasing the volume of our news stories and social media activity. This has been hugely successful, with steady increases in levels of engagement and positive feedback. We have also created new sections on the Icon website to highlight our key messages and to share our impact through a growing series of case studies. We hope that these changes will raise the profile and visibility of the conservation profession and also ensure that our messages reach a wider audience. As we progress towards that uncertain post-lockdown future ensuring that our voice is heard will be more important than ever.
In conclusion my reflection is that it has been an eventful but invigorating first year at the helm. I have personally taken great delight in getting to know the staff, trustees and members of Icon and I continue to be amazed by the passion and commitment that conservators bring to their work and ours. The next twelve months will be testing and there will certainly to be tough challenges ahead but I believe that we are a stable and healthy organisation and that there remains much to be cheerful about. (And that’s my final C-word!)