Misunderstandings about tapestry trustees and charities

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Recent comments on the Great Tapestry of Scotland betray fundamental misunderstandings of how charities work (Hawick News, August 21).

It is said that the trustees are “unelected” and “unknown”. Yet you can look up those involved with biographies on our website. We are ‘unelected’ as we have come together for a particular public object in which we believe.

We are governed by strict charity laws and report to OSCR, the relevant regulatory body. It has made no complaint on our governance within the frameworks it lays down. No trustee receives remuneration, nor can they. They give their time for free. A number have supported the project financially, or with regard to time, with no prospect of return.

Money from Scottish Borders Council goes solely towards the building. When built there will be new governance arrangements to reflect the new situation.

While no other councils bid [to host the tapestry], other organisations did. All offers were considered carefully. In this, as in many other areas, the critics have never checked the accuracy of their statements with the trustees.

The reason for our choice [of venue] was not the result of pressure (which would have been improper) but that the Borders submitted the best proposal. It would have been simple to site the tapestry in Edinburgh but we wished to use its pulling power (some 150,000 visitors per year) to benefit other areas. Cultural tourism is an enormous income generator, both directly and in related spend. To quantify cost and assume no income is entirely specious.

The tapestry is a magnificent and humbling thing, the product of thousands of people, a tribute to the richness and diversity of Scotland. It is also a powerful and unique educational resource. The trustees’ sole concern is to see its future secured.

We must remember the tapestry is a large object. It has to be viewed in a particular way. It requires strict conservation criteria. Meeting the standards necessary is certainly not a case of simply matching the tapestry to an existing building.

It is right to thank Scottish Borders Council for its support and understanding of what the tapestry could bring to its new home. We have two choices: a Scotland of ambition, of generosity of spirit and of cultural richness. Or a Scotland of denigration, of petty mindedness, of back-biting. The tapestry sits with that first Scotland. It is our hope that the Borders sits there, too.

Hugh Andrew

Great Tapestry trustee