After speaking with the owners, operators, and community groups working together to protect Canada’s historic sites, we’ve created a Shared Stewardship Toolkit to help you navigate partnerships that best support long-term stewardship.
Historic places across the country are being brought to life by partnerships of all kinds. Here is your toolkit to address the challenges and opportunities involved in growing and sustaining a dynamic site between multiple partners.
Over the winter of 2021, the Trust undertook a research project to better understand the challenges facing these sites and learn how partners are working together to resolve them. The research included a national survey and over 40 interviews with owners, operators, and community partners. The report presents the methodology and results of the research, and this Shared Stewardship Toolkit presents recommendations in a format that will be useful for all partners.
The Places, Players and Partnerships. A. The Places: Geographic location and physical complexity have a significant impact on the ways that sites are governed and operated. While there are universal issues and best practices to be shared across all sites, the specifics of location and site size determine certain dynamics in the shared stewardship dynamic that should be considered.
A well written agreement is integral to a successful partnership. When an agreement lacks clarity or provides an unrealistic division of roles and responsibilities, issues may arise in all aspects of managing and operating the site.
Navigating governance in a partnership is complex. Partners must work together to attain common goals through varying lenses, achieving balance between accountability and independence.
Directing a historic site with multiple partners requires coordination of each party’s vision, drawing on shared resources to support development over time.
Raising funds and earning revenue is a consistent issue, as partners are often challenged by the shared responsibility of establishing financial growth and sustainability.
Historic sites require a specialized system of care that draws on shared resources and individual strengths. The complexities of such create issues in building and site maintenance, as partners find it difficult to translate roles and responsibilities from the agreement into the realities of day-to-day operations.
Weak partnerships affect the ways that stories are told at historic sites, limiting the development of sound interpretive strategies that effectively engage citizens and visitors. Interpretation is most often addressed almost entirely by operators with the support of third parties and high level oversight of site owners.
Consistent and appropriate staffing makes all the difference. High staff turnover among owners, operators, and third parties is one of the most cited issues at shared stewardship sites, creating ruptures in the relationship.
Strong communication is the key to a positive partnership. When communication is fraught, it can lead to breakdown in other areas of site management.
Glenhyrst’s long-standing vision and mandate as an art gallery has created an undeniable stability. However, the real success of the site is based on the active collaboration between the partners.
The Halifax Citadel is a restored military fortification that sits atop Citadel Hill, built to defend the town against enemies beginning in the 18th century. Today, the responsibility of interpretation is shared by Parks Canada, Halifax Citadel Society, and The Army Museum, who each contribute to animating the site in a unique way.
A driving factor in Lougheed House’s success is that the Society exists solely to operate the site. Their function is clear, and there are few conflicting interests directing the course of their work.
Owners of multiple historic sites are most often (but not exclusively) governments from all levels, and they are faced with several key challenges. Their portfolio of sites likely includes a range of variations, including: site size and location, reasons for the partnership founding, and value placed on the site by the owner and community.