Introduction   Overview   The shape of the debate   Themes Theme 1 - A National Heritage Collection Theme 2 - Heritage for Communities Theme 3 Making heritage accessible Theme 4 Heritage and Tourism after 2014    
Introduction Connecting with conservation Case study Land Reform
Advocating Community Interests The options for the Trust Video Package Your views 

Heritage and conservation are no longer preserves of a rarefied few, distant from the daily experience of the majority of people.

One look at the TV and radio listings in any given week shows a plethora of programmes devoted to natural landscapes, wildlife, gardens, history and archaeology.  The simple truth is that if there were not popular demand for these subjects, these programmes would not get made.

Kids at BannockburnWe also have the evidence of exploding interest in family history, with yet more TV programmes devoted to the subject as well as a multitude of magazines and websites. It seems many of us share a thirst to know more about where we came from and the people who went before us.

This level of access to the subject matters could not be imagined back in 1931, the year of the National Trust for Scotland’s formation. In the early days, the Trust’s conservation of Scotland’s special places was straightforward attempt to enable people with the wherewithal to take the opportunity to visit and admire them.  Interpretation and engagement were generally limited to a guidebook and a tour.

Over the years, however, popular interest in heritage has changed from being predominantly passive to being much more active.  At the same time, people are more demanding in terms of information needs and the quality of their ‘visitor experience’. Also, the idea that communities and individuals should be empowered and should engage with and define their own heritage on their own terms is now a given.  

How does the Trust respond to this – especially as changes in terms of social attitudes, legislative reform, media and technology are accelerating to a degree never seen before?

This part of the debate about the Trust’s future direction is divided into three elements based on different strands of social and cultural change as listed below.  Your thoughts on how the Trust should respond to each, or even if it should necessarily respond at all, would be welcomed.  You have an opportunity to let us know your views through a brief survey in the final section of this theme’s pages.Hairy Man - star or the Trust's 2013 TV commercial

Connecting with Conservation – the ways in which the Trust’s heritage properties are already enjoyed as local community resources and some thoughts as to how engagement might be even better;

Land Reform – one of the most far-reaching national debates of the last twenty years; the Trust has been both criticised and praised in relation to the landscapes and islands it cares for but how should an independent conservation charity respond to the tide of legislation driving forward potentially far-reaching changes to land ownership and management?;

Advocating Community Interests – when communities (either geographical or focused on a common interest) regard their natural and cultural heritage to be under threat, should the Trust be a more vocal ally even if it does not own the properties or landscapes in question?  Are there other ways of advocating the cause of heritage besides high profile campaigning?

Clearly, education is a big part of the Trust’s mission and of great importance in community settings but we shall deal with this in greater detail in ‘Theme 3’ of the A Place for Heritage? Debate.