For the benefit of those who have not yet had the opportunity to read our interim statement issued yesterday we would like to repeat here its opening sentence before moving on to respond to the requests we have had for additional information regarding our future proposals in the light of the Black Lives Matter” (BLM) movement.
“We would first like to make it clear that we fully understand the international reaction to the events seen in Minneapolis on the 25th May; the abuse of power and disregard for basic human rights is unacceptable in any context and the Rhodes Birthplace Trust is unequivocal in its condemnation of such behaviours”.
I will now seek to address some of the questions that we have received from local residents. As many of you will be aware, the future of venue and the role it will play in the town has been under discussion for some time following the announcement of the intention to build a new arts venue as part of the “Old River Lane” development. In anticipation of the likely changes that will be required of the Arts Complex, a working party was established slightly over two years ago to explore the issues and draw up some recommendations for future change. Although the start of this process considerably pre-dated the advent of the BLM protests and in many cases they are still “work in progress”, their content is highly relevant and, given the circumstances, it seems appropriate to share one of them with you at this time.
In order to update and improve the governance arrangements for the complex in anticipation of the future challenges it will face, it was agreed that the Trust should seek to convert to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). This process was formally commenced with the Charity Commission approximately 5 months ago and is now well on its way to completion. The Trustees agreed sometime ago that the new CIO will be called ‘The Bishop’s Stortford Museum and Arts CIO’ thereby replacing the name of its predecessor ‘The Rhodes Birthplace Trust’.
Once the new (Bishop’s Stortford Museum and Arts) CIO has been fully established (this will still take some time for the process to complete) it will start to set the parameters of what will be the new operating organization. It has always been the intention for the (Bishop’s Stortford Museum and Arts) CIO to consult with local residents at that time to discuss proposals for the name of this organization and the venue as a whole.
As I hope you can see, we are already actively engaged in an ongoing process that will enable us to make sure that whatever future name for the complex is decided on, it will be one that has been chosen in consultation with our many visitors and supporters and is truly reflective of the wishes of our local community.
Deirdre Glasgow, Chair of Rhodes Birthplace Trust