The Daily Telegraph
National Trust wrong to focus on race, says candidate for its council
THE National Trust must stop presenting its stately homes through the “prism of race”, a candidate for charity’s council has said.
Bola Anike has said that she wants the trust to “focus on its purpose” – looking after properties for future generations – and that its strategy “of explaining history is well-intentioned but flawed” as it is important to see history in “context” and not “impose contemporary values”.
Pitching for election, the property manager added: “It is a mistake to present the past through the prism of race and make assumptions about what people will find offensive, or to apportion praise and blame.”
Seven vacancies on the trust’s council remain to be filled at its AGM in November. The council appoints the chairman, deputy chairman and members of its board of trustees and holds them to account.
Ms Anike was one of the candidates recommended by Restore Trust, a members’ campaign group that believes the charity has failed to focus on its original purpose. They are also backing Prof Jeremy Black, a historian, who has told members that the trust’s “judgemental presentation of some properties has caused unnecessary controversy” and has called for “a more nuanced and rigorous approach which will aid deeper understanding”.
Philip Gibbs, also backed by Restore Trust, has called for the charity to be “less political” and to reverse moves to describe the mansion experience as “outdated”, put some collections in storage and eliminate the posts of experienced curators. Putting his case for election he argued that charity “needs to become faithful to original donor intentions and start trusting its members”.
The trust has recommended the election to the council of Sally Hunt, president of the TUC, and Will Wilkin, a BBC executive who has said the trust should be “more focused on efforts to diversify people who visit and work with us”.
This year’s AGM could be heated, as the charity votes on whether it should spend money on Pride events and whether it should set up an independent watchdog to deal with complaints.
All members can stand for election to the council. A nominations committee makes recommendations but members can vote for any of the candidates.
This year, 26 candidates are standing for the seven vacancies.