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  • Heritage Day ‘Spring 2020’ (Weekly blog, 1 March 2020)

    Posted on March 1, 2020
    A blog by Catherine Leonard, Secretary-General

    On 26 February I joined members of THA (The Heritage Alliance) at their postponed Heritage Day.   It was wonderful to be able to support the attendance of Tara-Jane Sutcliffe.  Tara is Director of the Saint Helena National Trust and Heritage Day happened to coincide with her visit to the UK.  So it was a great opportunity for her to network with relevant and interesting colleagues too.

    Heritage Day ‘Spring 2020’

    Andrew Jackson, Director of the Tower of London, set the tone in his welcome speech.  He drew on his experience at NATO to highlight the importance of alliances.  And that we all speak ‘many different versions of the same language’.

    New Heritage Minister, Nigel Huddleston MP, in his first public keynote, spoke about the importance of heritage in regenerating places and improving people’s lives.  In a lively speech he talked about the role of heritage in the run up to COP 26.  ‘It helps protect our future as well as our past’, he said.

    We’re going to need a bigger cake …

    Delegates then heard from Sir Timothy Laurence, Chair of English Heritage.  He highlighted how the charity encourages people to ‘touch and feel history in the places it happened’.  He also ran through the numbers.  Which are pretty impressive.  1m members; 6.3m visitors; 3,500 volunteers; spending 45% more on conservation.

    From @HTNmembers twitter feed

    This growth was not about expanding the English Heritage slice at the expense of others however.  But rather about growing the size of the whole cake!  He highlighted the importance of working in partnership and what the heritage sector can do for the country. Such as attracting more tourists and reducing reliance on government support.  He feared that coronavirus would impact on the sector.  Sir Tim said that the most important thing was to reduce the VAT rate on repairs to historic buildings.  (And this was much repeated throughout the day!)  He also spoke about the need to prioritise as it’s impossible to save everything.

    Peter Ainsworth, Chair of THA, said it was the largest Heritage Day ever.  ‘Heritage Alliance is growing, love of heritage is growing and interest in Whitehall is growing!’

    (You can catch many of the speeches on The Heritage Alliance website.)

    THA Titbits

    Fascinating presentations and discussions followed throughout the day.  Here are some other things I thought might be interesting to INTO members:

    • Check out Historic England’s Heritage Counts research which this year focuses on carbon in the built environment.  Adala Leeson’s presentation detailed the calculated reduction of our carbon footprint when we reuse and recycle historic buildings.
    • Heritage Open Days are an opportunity work with artists, change perceptions and inspire local organisations.  Lots of INTO members are involved in organising these, including Herita, the hosts of our next conference.
    • Connected, joined-up rural life is vital to a living countryside. Find out more from CPRE The Countryside Charity.
    • Some great learning about organising an overseas study visit from Trish Pemberton of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. These tips could be useful if you’re applying for a TAP-INTO travel grant:
      • Build on existing connections (inspiration, contacts, etc)
      • Don’t go too soon
      • Get your networks in place first – at home and abroad
      • Establish your credibility before you go (conferences and journals)

    (TAP-INTO Round 4 has just opened with a deadline of 27 April 2020!  Let us know if you need any support from us in order to submit your application!)

    Now Network

    Before I went to Heritage Day, I had reviewed the notes I had made on networking (see my earlier blog). I had read the delegate list and worked out who I wanted to speak to.   In fact, there were only two people I missed (and I followed them up with an email afterwards).   I did miss the chance to introduce people to one another, which was one of the things I had hoped to do.  But there were just too many interesting people there and not enough time!!!   A great opportunity to catch up with what’s going on in the sector and meet friends, old and new.  All in all, a very good day.  Thank you to the Heritage Alliance for everything you do and the inspiration you give!  (Here are my blogs about Heritage Day 2018 and 2017!)

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