IHBC’s 2020 Brighton School postponed to 2021, as 2020 School goes virtual, on ‘OLD TOWNS | NEW FUTURES’ confronted by a global pandemic, June 19, online and interactive

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the IHBC’s 2020 Brighton School has to be postponed to 2021 – with details to be confirmed later – but the IHBC carries on unbowed as we re-imagine our annual CPD highlight as a shorter but no less stimulating ‘Virtual School’, looking ahead to Brighton 2021 and featuring lead authorities exploring our ‘OLD TOWNS | NEW FUTURES’ topic, now reflecting and speculating on the heritage impacts of the pandemic itself. Visit the website at virtualschool2020.ihbc.org.uk

How the current pandemic will shape historic urban areas and their surrounding communities across the globe is impossible to tell, at least as yet.  But, as specialists, communities and stakeholders, we need to reflect on the implications for our current – possibly now even historic – approaches to caring for valued places, and even speculate on future strategies and responses.

The IHBC’s 2020 Virtual School follows the same celebrated model of all of our annual conferences, as it brings together leading authorities and representatives from across and beyond the world of heritage, conservation, government and development to address the most current of issues.  For 2020 our only sensible choice is to explore, as best we can from inside, issues around the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our 2020 Virtual School offers speakers and delegates a platform to engage with this most dramatic of situations.  We want to scope out the issues as best we can, taking the widest perspective possible.  We hope to inspire effective responses to the complex and diverse challenges that, globally, now confront our local places, communities and heritage.

So join us online, on 19 June, as the IHBC’s 2020 Virtual School explores the topic of ‘OLD TOWNS | NEW  FUTURES’, through both reflections on where we are, and speculations on where we might be heading.

Booking details and costs will be in place soon, with updates available on our NewsBlog Service and links to appear as they are agreed at virtualschool2020.ihbc.org.uk and #IHBCVirtualSchool2020.

IHBC President Mike Brown said: ‘These are unprecedented times; now we know how small and interconnected our world truly is, and how fragile our human plans.’

‘I cannot tell you how proud I am of the way our staff and all the volunteer army that makes the IHBC work have risen to the huge challenge of the consequences of the COVID-19 lockdown.  No one will miss being at the Annual School this year more than I, but that simply serves to whet my appetite for Brighton 2021.’

‘And thanks to our staff and the School organising committee we can now look forward to joining the IHBC Virtual Day School 2020 on 19 June, and hear from leading experts on how they think the heritage – and our communities – might be affected, and how we might all respond in these tough times, and build resilience for when the immediate crisis eases.’

‘I hope to ‘see’ as many of you as possible at the Virtual School.  It will be very new and different, but, I have no doubt, a stimulating session and invaluable source of CPD.’

‘In the meantime, keep safe.’

IHBC Chair David McDonald said: ‘I suspect I’m not the only one to be disappointed that the 2020 Annual School has been postponed. I have much sympathy with Branch volunteers who have worked so hard to make it all happen. I’d like to thank them and our sponsors for their continuing support.’

‘Now, after much consideration, we have a new plan, just as exciting, and more accessible. I hope members will sign up for this event, and encourage colleagues to make the best use of any down-time by joining in this unique and low-cost CPD opportunity’.

IHBC South East Branch Chair, and IHBC trustee, Sanne Roberts said: ‘In the midst of such a difficult situation, the Branch and officers are excited to be able to build on our existing planning for Brighton 2020 to bring forward timely CPD on the very relevant and evolving subject of town centres.’

‘Much of the advertised detail for the Brighton Annual School, including the tours, will come forward in 2021, and we look forward to welcoming you to the south east then. For now, however, our focus is on the Virtual School and what this can deliver on local, national and international levels.’

‘Our South East Branch has been keen throughout to deliver a ‘Green Schoo’l in Brighton – a place already celebrated for its green credentials.  The 2020 Virtual School will be the greenest School in the history of the IHBC, and so helps paves the way for future ways of working.’

IHBC Vice Chair, Trustee and Branch Committee Treasurer Lone le Vay said: ‘Congratulations to the IHBC’s Annual School team, both within our South East Branch and in the National Office, for rising to the challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, adapting preparations for the Brighton Annual School to deliver two exciting complementary on-line events.’

‘The virtual school will provide a unique opportunity to develop our skills in new ways of communication and enable us to continue to provide accessible CPD in an interesting and engaging way to our members in these difficult times.’

IHBC Education Secretary and Trustee Andrew Shepherd said: ‘Our institute and volunteers are working hard at detailing the programme.  I’m conscious that this is especially challenging, but confident that this new virtual platform can offer the same level of priority CPD our members expect, even if we all in conservation know that virtual realities can never be as good as first-hand experience’.

IHBC Director Dean O’Reilly said: ‘Sadly our usual School Context in September has had to be dropped.  However we intend to continue our cherished programme of specialist publications as best we can over this difficult time, including the next Yearbook which is due out soon and is linked, naturally,  to our Virtual 2020 and Brighton 2021 School themes.’

‘Even more relevant, the outputs from the Virtual School will be made available across and beyond our regular communications networks and platforms, from our NewsBlogs to our YouTube Channel.  So do be sure to keep in touch with our work, whether as observer, partner, colleague, member or volunteer, or as all together!

See more at virtualschool2020.ihbc.org.uk and follow updates by signing up to the NewsBlog alert and at #IHBCVirtualSchool2020.

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