The National Trust (3)

Not surprisingly, I have been following the online discussion of the proposed changes to the structure of the National Trust with the utmost interest. Not least, I listened to the defence of the two internal consultation documents by Hilary McGrady, its Director General, on the Today programme.

She is planning the cuts with regrets and a feeling of their necessity, because they are not willing to draw on their reserves. But there was one obvious problem in her response. She said that the curator of textiles would be able to apply for one of the new curatorial posts. But the new curatorial posts are concerned with interpretation and the management of change. So, the curator of textiles who is likely to have a very deep material-based expertise is unlikely to be especially well qualified for a post concerned with public interpretation. In other words, specialist skills are being sacrificed, because, as Julian Glover makes clear in the Spectator, specialists stand in the way of change.

But the change which Glover recommends as being a necessary form of modernisation is allowing readers of the Spectator to smoke cigars in the library. Is this really what we want of National Trust houses ? That they should be available for rent by the oligarch friends of Spectator readers, instead of available to the widest possible audience every day.


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