Does archaeology have the wrong brand? One of the things that rather worries me about archaeology is that we are getting the wrong brand image.
In the rush downmarket indicated by concepts such as ‘access’ are we not in danger of alienating our more traditional supporters? One of the worrying aspects is that there are so very few outside funds that are willing to support archaeology. Indeed one distinguished fund raiser told me the other day that it was not just that we were behind America in this, but that we were behind most of Europe too. In Germany most Government funding is based on the matching-equal-funding principle, and even in Italy it is easier to raise outside funds than in Britain. Yet in Britain every day there seem to be millionaires who retire and sell up their business for sometimes £10m or sometimes £100m and say they want to spend the money on charity, but they never seem to want to support archaeology. As a result we are far too dependent on getting grants from the Government or quasi-Government bodies such as the lottery funds, with all their inbuilt biases.
There is however one exception, and that is the Robert Kiln Charitable Trust. Many people knew Robert Kiln in his lifetime – a highly successful Lloyds underwriter who was a great supporter of archaeology and indeed of music, his other great love: in his latter years he was writing cheques for £1000 at least once a week to support archaeologists and archaeology. However on his death, the Robert Kiln Charitable Trust, which he formed in 1970, carried on with 5 trustees, all members of the family who want to continue his good work. The Trust in many ways is the opposite of the Governmental sources of funds: instead of long application forms just write an informal letter with whatever supporting documentation you feel is needed; and instead of the need for ‘public access’ which rules out all the back room work where funds are truly needed, the Trust is always willing to support the unsung backstage work, including, in particular, publication. Most of the sums given range between £500 and £1500, and the trustees aim to respond to requests within a month. Applications should be sent to: The Trust Administrator, Sarah Howell, at The Robert Kiln Charitable Trust, 15a Bull Plain, Hertford, SG14 1DX, answerphone 01992 554962 or email [email protected].
This opinion comes from CA issue 205