Harewood House Trust is an educational charity, set up to share, maintain and conserve Harewood House and its grounds for the public benefit, which was founded in 1986. The Trust recognises its colonial past – the House was created using the historic wealth of the Lascelles family, garnered from the West Indian sugar trade of plantations, enslavement of people of colour, and ownership of ships and warehouses – and today it exists to share Harewood’s story, to listen, to learn, and to enrich people’s lives using its collections, surroundings, and its history as means of creating a better society today.
To celebrate the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in September 2007, Harewood staged a production of Geraldine Connor’s Carnival Messiah – a spectacular theatrical event with a cast of over a hundred community performers from Chapeltown, Leeds and legendary international artists.
Working side-by-side with Geraldine Connor, David Lascelles, Earl of Harewood, was the executive producer and instigated bringing Carnival Messiah to Harewood, with a wish ‘to acknowledge our history but at the same time to celebrate the present, for which I don’t know of any more exuberant, more spectacular, more inclusive expression of contemporary Caribbean culture than Carnival Messiah’.
Geraldine Connor’s work, and her commitment to celebrating African Caribbean culture and educating young people and communities through the arts, was a true inspiration to all involved. Following her untimely death in 2011, the Lascelles family led an opportunity to set up a Foundation in her name, and in later years, all monies generated from a sale of rum found in Harewood’s cellars that originated in the Caribbean were gifted to the Foundation.
The Geraldine Connor Foundation and Harewood are intrinsically linked; Diane Howse, Countess of Harewood, is the Foundation’s Chair today.
Harewood House Trust commits to continuing support for the Geraldine Connor Foundation, together celebrating diverse culture whilst acknowledging and sharing Harewood’s history, and in ensuring that we play our part in promoting equality, diversity, empowerment and inclusion in society.