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  • National Lottery Heritage Fund Launch (Weekly blog, 3 February 2019)

    Posted on February 3, 2019
    A blog by Catherine Leonard, Secretary-General

    Wicked Wednesday

    Some days surprise you.  The morning did not start well.   Getting everyone ready and work/school had complications of its own because of the snow last night.  Indeed, I ummed and ahed briefly about going to London at all.  I was off to the launch of the new National Lottery Heritage Fund Strategic Funding Framework (2019-2024).  Thrilled to be invited, although doubted they’d miss me …  But on the other hand, I hate when people say they’re coming and don’t turn up at my events.  Moreover, I had something Fiona said last year in the context of leadership on my mind. We’d talked with my coach about being more visible and revisiting the impact I have on people. Fiona shared some advice she’d been given early in her career: ‘Show up, be seen and make an impact‘.   Well, if I didn’t make it out of the house, I’d have failed at the first hurdle.

    So, quick decision: Stick with the plan.  Already running late, I had to climb into the car through the boot as the doors were iced up.   Not very dignified.   Several more minutes delay whilst the windscreen defrosted.  Remarkably, I arrived at the station just in time.  Ticket purchased, I jumped on the train.  Only to discover that I’d left my computer bag in the waiting room.   A swift exit followed and I was reunited with my trusty laptop.   Phew.   Next train in five minutes.  Not too bad.  On arrival in London however, I received a call from my mother’s care home.  They’d had to call the doctor.  There was talk of ‘unresponsive’ and ‘views on resuscitation’.   I felt then that perhaps it had been a mistake to come after all.

    The following day, snow had a great impact on everyone, but that’s another story!

    New name for the Heritage Lottery Fund

    The home assured me that there was little to do other than wait and see so I hot-footed it to the British Library.  I missed the coffee and networking (shame) but was just in time for the start of the presentations.  And saw several friendly faces as I joined the audience.

    I won’t go into detail about the relaunch of the artist previously known as ‘Heritage Lottery Fund’. The new strategic funding framework can be found here.

    What stuck in my mind about the morning were:

    • Roly Keating of the British Library talking about the digital/physical conundrum: ‘the more we put on line the longer the queues are outside!’  He emphasised the ‘heart-stopping allure of the physical encounter’.
    • Peter Luff, Chairman of the National Lottery Heritage Fund saying that ‘heritage has the power to change people’s lives and transform communities’.   Furthermore that ‘a nation that doesn’t understand its past cannot navigate its future’.
    • As Hilary Carty, from the Clore Leadership Programme, who chaired the morning said, it was a joy to hear words like: simple, devolved, local, innovative, modest, diversity, wellbeing, volunteering, skills, regeneration, efficient.
    • The powerful testimony of Jade Hay, a volunteer from County Durham, whose young life was transformed through an HLF project.
    • A focus on landscapes and nature – and community heritage.
    • Michael Ellis MP, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, talking of ‘the demand for our heritage skills across the world’.

    Make an impact …

    One of Fiona’s rule of three is about saying something memorable, so I asked a question: Whether, in the light of all the talk of soft power, the NLHF would be supporting the sector’s capacity to engage internationally.   Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive, said that all UK organisations should have an international strategy and that NLHF could help with that.

    So #1 and #3, ticked off.   Next was ‘be seen’ which is about how many people you talk to.  I checked in with National Trust colleagues (from the Grants team and Fit for the Future). I met a chap from Camelot, the people who run the Lottery.  Said hello to Judy Cligman, HLF Director of Strategy for whom this was a final hurrah. (Judy kindly sat on our Excellence Awards Jury so hopefully not the last we see of her!)  And the very briefest of chats with Ros Kerslake, who also helped us out by chairing a Czech National Trust event a few years ago. I reconnected with Luminta Holban who is now Head of Grants and Trusts at English Heritage. I know her from her work with the Mihai Eminescu Trust in Romania which she presented at our Dublin ICNT.  Lastly I also spoke to Chris Blandford of World Heritage UK who is coming to the Bermuda ICNT.  And all that in record quick time as I needed to head back to the care home.  But not before grabbing a copy of the framework AND a beautiful NLHF cupcake on the way out!

    What does this mean for INTO?

    I read the document on the train home and found a section on ‘International’.  Just above ‘Wellbeing’!    I know there are Lottery schemes in many INTO member countries so this discussion has wider applicability.   I  particularly liked this quote, as it sums up what INTO is all about: ‘Engaging internationally opens up opportunities for heritage organisations to exchange knowledge with other countries, promote themselves in new areas, work with new partners and drive inbound tourism … However, for much of the heritage sector it is the lack of capacity and funding which is holding them back.’  I wonder whether there might be a role for INTO in helping identify these new partners?

    So, reflecting on all of this on the train home I was reminded not only of the wisdom of our wonderful Chairman (!).  But also of the real value of connection.  I know we sometimes question the point of going to events like this.  And not all of us are comfortable at networking, let alone expressing our ideas and work in public.  As my journey of self-awareness and discovery begun last year continues I find I am more able to do all of these things in an – I hope – authentic way.

    (On the subject of wellbeing, my mother made a good recovery and is being well looked after in this cold weather!)

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