The important and much loved Auchindrain, a few miles south of Inveraray and the last of Scotland’s preserved highland farm townships – is facing an imminent financial crisis not of its own making.
Yesterday, 14th June 2013, Alison Hay, the Convener of The Auchindrain Trust, Alison Hay, made the following public statement:
‘The Auchindrain Trust has for many years faced significant challenges in securing sufficient finance to care for the fabric of Auchindrain Township and to continue to open the site to visitors as a museum. Like very many of Scotland’s museums, the income which can realistically be raised from visitors to Auchindrain is not nearly enough to cover the cost of collections care and providing services to appropriate standards.
‘The Trust now finds itself in a situation in which its carefully-managed financial reserves will soon be exhausted.
‘If additional funds do not arrive quickly, the museum’s two full-time staff – who are responsible for its management and maintenance – will be paid off at the end of July. The Visitor Centre and Tearoom would then remain open until the end of September, after which the museum as a whole would close.
‘It is difficult to predict what might then happen to Auchindrain, but the most likely outcome would see this unique, one-of-a-kind Category A Listed historic site – a place of unquestioned national importance to Scotland – abandoned to nature to decay quietly and sink back into the earth. In this way, it would finally follow in the path of rest of the thousands of farm townships which were once home to most of Scotland’s rural population.
‘The Trust has maintained an active dialogue with the Scottish Government and remains hopeful of a positive outcome. There is, however, no certainty of this.
‘The Auchindrain Trust is therefore about to launch a Public Appeal to mobilise the support of the people of Scotland, together with the nation’s businesses, charities and community organisations; and the many friends and supporters of Auchindrain worldwide, in a collective endeavour to build a sustainable future for Auchindrain.
‘The Trust’s annual target will be £100,000 from all sources to cover the shortfall in its core running costs net of earned income.’
We have no further information than this on the nature and organisation of this major appeal.
It has to be assumed, however, that contact is being made directly with ‘the nation’s businesses, charities and community organisations’. A fundraising target of £100,000 per annum is an ambitious one and will require a great deal of work in a very short time. Target sources able to contribute substantially to this are unlikely to respond to the digital equivalent of a letter up the chimney.
This is the almost impossible Catch 22 in which organisations like Auchindrain find themselves. Their funding is endemically perilous, never assured. Key staff have continually to do the work they must do for the organisation while at the same time conducting major fund raising campaigns like this – which, to have any chance of succeeding, are cannibalistic in the extent of what they demand in time, effort, innovation and persistence.
Leaving valuable assets to this almost sadistic requirement could be argued to be nationally myopic.
Auchindrain, an accessible part of the social, community and agricultural history of Scotland and of Argyll. In recent years, under Curator Joanne Howdle and then Bob Clark as Development Director, it has been almost unrecognisably invigorated as part of the National Collections of Scotland and has forged new links to the various geographical communities and communities of interest with whom it is engaged.
Its potential loss is unthinkable and this action from the long-time fully committed Convener of The Auchindrain Trust, Alison Hay, must be a signal of a very serious threat to its survival.