Icons of England
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Advisory Board Meeting Four

May 4th 2006


  • Apologies for absence were noted. Two new members, Steve Brace and Vineet Lal were welcomed to the Board (one in absentia), and the retirement of two others, Judy Gibbons and Dr Charlie Gere was announced with thanks for all their contributions to the project.
  •  It had been agreed at the previous meeting that a summary of Advisory Board meetings would be posted on the site, to help ICONS visitors better understand the way the project works. Minutes for earlier meetings were approved for publication.
  •  The ICONS Editorial Director reported on recent activity in the project : The second wave of icons in the collection was launched on April 28th; this included 21 icons – a total of over 200 new pages, including audio and video (plus further audio and video to follow).
  •  ICONS’ Managing Director reported on the successful media coverage of the second launch. It was again widespread and intense, newspapers,, radio and TV,covering it regionally, nationally and internationally. The Advisory Board were shown two news bulletins about the launch from ITN lunchtime news and Channel 5 News. The latest launch of Icons of England resulted in a spike in traffic to the ICONS site – some 14,000 people visiting the site in a single day – and consequently in nominations, comments, etc.
  •  An update was presented about ICONS work with Mencap. A national art competition had been held with a number of entries. ICONS helped Mencap judged the final entries, which are to be included in an Xmas calender in 2007.  ICONS invited Dame Judi Dench to support the calender initiative and she has agreed. A meeting with Lord Rix, from Mencap, was very helpful and led to further discussions about attempting to arrange distribution through companies or High Street stores.
  •  Further progress was made on ICONS’ involvement in the Silver Surfers’ Festival in May, organised by Age Concern and Digital Unite in an attempt to encourage 20,000 new older surfers onto the web. ICONS has designed some toolkits to encourage older suffers. These will be offered on both the Silver Surfers and ICONS’ websites.
  •  Educational content on the ICONS site is being improved all the time by the Education and Community Programmes Manager. Quizzes and brand new lesson plans add to the appeal for teachers visiting the site.
  • Relationships continue to be developed with museums around the country. One initiative being backed by ICONS in May includes the Footsteps of Giants Festival organised in the West Midlands by five different museums working in partnership. New content is planned for the ICONS site.
  •  ICONS Editorial Director said a proposed list of icons had been circulated to the Advisory Board in advance of the meeting. This included twenty-one of the most popular icons nominated and a suggestion for others that might be considered (for example: composite nominations, which could include several specific ones). Following some discussion the Advisory Board recommended that the twenty-one popularly-selected icons be ratified as the ‘Wave 3’ list for launch in late July. It was agreed the editorial team will begin work on these forthwith.
  •  Following a request from the Advisory Board at the last meeting in March, there had been discussions among the ICONS team about ways of presenting this nomination on the site. It was acknowledged that there was clearly a high level of public interest in the subject – and strong views had been expressed both for and against. The Advisory Board confirmed at the meeting that it wanted to explore ways of treating the subject and invited the ICONS editorial team to submit something for their (the Advisory Board’s) consideration, which would allow the subject to be reported on in a thorough and balanced way. Various possible approaches to the subject were discussed – including, for instance, exploring ‘the fox-hunting debate’ itself as an icon, or opening the debate up to further public engagement before taking the decision – but all were found more or less unsatisfactory. The Advisory Board and ICONS team agreed that a resolution be found as soon as possible, to ensure that public engagement generated on the site is being responded to fully and appropriately. It was agreed that the editorial team would discuss the issue further and propose a treatment for the Advisory Board’s consideration.
  • ends