Find out how Bill is supporting the 2017 annual conference and what exciting things are in store for us this year.  

How has the organisation of the 2017 conference been going so far?
It’s been going very well! Ruth Coulthard, of AHI, and I have a good working relationship and we are both excited about what we can deliver in October. The venue has been very helpful and we have a positive vibe about their support. Quite a few national and local agencies are keen to support us, financially and with staff, and that will allow us to keep rates lower but also ensure a high quality event. All in all, we’re very pleased!
Why attend the 2017 conference in Scotland?
I always think of our annual conferences as a chance to recharge my batteries; a chance to meet with like-minded colleagues from around the world and share stories and experiences. Where else will you get such a gathering of enthusiastic interpreters from around the globe; people who inspire, entertain and challenge what we do and think. I really don’t think you can miss this one! Oh! did I mention it’ll be a lot of fun too?!

You work with different communities. How important is the landscape to them?

Most of my work is outside of cities and towns and the landscape defines the setting for a community’s heritage. The two cannot be separated and you have to understand one to understand the other. This is particularly important in the Highlands of Scotland. Where visitors see a dramatic empty landscape the community sees a landscape often devoid of its people. Making that contradiction connect with visitors is our challenge.

How would you describe the correlation between tourism, heritage and interpretation?
I see interpretation as the bridge between tourism and heritage. Heritage can just ‘exist’ for a community, but the ability to share it with others will require skills and money. Visitors who make a connection with your heritage can provide the life blood for sharing and sustaining it into the future. If the bridge is not well planned and well constructed then it will be a poor means of connection. We should aim to build a strong lasting bridge with our visitors. This requires effort and skill and that is where we come in!

Will we be able to see some examples of connecting visitors and communities to heritage at the conference?
The Conference will certainly give all delegates a chance to see some outstanding heritage, but also some fine examples of contemporary heritage interpretation. The site visits will showcase some of our best examples in the Highlands of Scotland. All the visits will offer a chance to experience and connect with outstanding heritage through well-planned and well-delivered interpretation. So, if you want to get a place on your preferred visit you’d better book early.