National Heritage Trust: Promotion & Preserving of Environmental Cultural Heritage

Arts and Culture

20 June 2006
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

20 June 2006
Acting Chairperson:
Mr R Sonto (ANC)
Document handed out:
Minutes of Committee Meeting of 13 June
Pamphlet “Our Undiscovered Heritage” by Hout Bay Heritage Trust: Part one & two
The Chairpersons of the Muizenberg Historical Conservation Society, and Llandudno Heritage Trust campaigned for the creation of a National Heritage Trust that would preserve and promote South Africa’s rich natural and cultural heritage. The Committee resolved to consider their recommendations and to add value where it could. Members asked questions on the scope and functioning of a National Heritage Trust, the financial support it would need, its interrelationships with other Trusts, and the United Kingdom National Trust’s funding structure.

The Minutes of the Committee Meeting held on 13 June were tabled, discussed, and adopted, with some amendments.
Mr R Sonto reminded members that he would be acting as Chairperson.

National Heritage Trust
Mr Alan McAllister Harvey (Chairman: Muizenberg Historical Conservation Society) briefed Members on the background and the various impediments behind the initiative to create a National Heritage Trust. He envisaged an organisation that could accept donations on behalf of a nation, preserving its sites for posterity.

Mr Dave Cowley (Chairperson: Hout Bay and Llandudno Heritage Trust) highlighted other countries, such as the UK and India, where a National Heritage Trust initiative existed. He noted that the Botanical Society of South Africa was an example of a successful and productive Trust.
He believed that the National Heritage Trust should be a non-profit organisation. It could make a significant economic contribution and add educational value to the country, as well as promote tourism. Various heritage organisations already existed and could be used as the backbone to support the creation of a Heritage Umbrella Body (HUB). Presently cultural and national heritage was the responsibility of various Departments, which created the potential for confusion, and neglect or loss of heritage sites. Sites were diverse and although local groups supported some, they were hindered by lack of human resources and funding, and sometimes by improper planning. Some important sites had been defaced, vandalised, destroyed or neglected. Creation of an umbrella, ideally National body would facilitate identification of sites by a grading system, motivate applications to be graded, create plans, find resources and raise funds. The objectives would be to save the National heritage.

Mr Cowley gave examples of how the National Trust in the United Kingdom, Australia and other countries operated. Local models already included the Botanical Society and he summarised their structure and staffing. He suggested that creation and accreditation of an umbrella heritage organisation was the first stage. He called upon Members to support the creation of a small joint working group from various Departments and existing bodies, to identify likely pilot projects, support a Draft Constitution and assist in the establishment of alliances. A National Trust would need funding, approval of sponsorships for a magazine and creation of a Board of Trustees with a high-profile Chairperson.
Mr B Zulu (ANC) asked whether the National organisation would be concentrated in the Western Cape.
Mr Harvey responded that it was intended that it should reach into every province.
Ms N Mbombo (ANC) asked what kind of support the National Heritage Trust would need from government, as she believed it had money.
Mr A Harvey corrected the assumption that the organisation already had money. He stated that government could provide some seed money, and then the National Lottery and large corporations could be approached.
Mr A Harvey clarified, in answer to a question, that the UK Heritage Trust funds were generated from the entrance fee charged at various sites. He added that these did not represent profits because the Trust was self-sustaining and the money was ploughed back.
The Chairperson queried how this Trust would relate to South Africa and other existing South African Trusts.
Mr A Harvey replied that the passion for heritage generally existed within communities, so that it was imperative to begin with small societies, which would result in the exchange of ideas and people. The National Heritage Trust should have a broader mandate, in terms of scope and sites covered, than existing Trusts. It should not have any regulatory functions, but would function as a business, and operate and manage the heritage sites.
Mr G Lekgetho (ANC) believed that this was a long overdue initiative that required support.
The Chairperson thanked the visitors and assured them that the matter would be interrogated further.
Minutes of 13 June: consideration and adoption
The members resolved to adopt the Minutes, with certain amendments. The Chairperson asked 
members to decide on matters pertaining to visits to the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu Natal.
The meeting was adjourned.  



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