A Good Heritage Strategy

The Historic England Research Strategy gives an overview of an approach to the heritage context and objectives of their work. The strategy covers nine broad themes shown below. These themes show the range of Historic England’s work to aid communication and to foster research and partnerships with others (Historic England, 1 December 2016 - LinkedIn). The strategy is comprehensive in its reach and covers all the bases of a workable management plan. It is a model that could easily be adapted to NSW, Australia.27 Gordon St Rosebery (10)

1 - Understanding the value of heritage in society
"Heritage makes a significant contribution to our daily lives and reflects the diversity of both past and present communities. We need to be able to understand this better by researching how it contributes to a sense of identity; the value it has on our national and local economy; how it promotes wellbeing and how it strengthens, connects and empowers our communities. We need a better understanding of how heritage is meaningful to people in their everyday surroundings and why they engage with or feel excluded from their heritage".

2 - Discovering and understanding our heritage and its significance
Much of a place’s heritage remains to be discovered or recognised. Important terrestrial or maritime archaeological sites are still hidden or hard to reach; even familiar buildings and landscapes may be known about but poorly understood or undervalued. The research needs to include identifying, defining and communicating the most significant aspects of the historic environment.

3 - Celebrating the cultural diversity of heritage
The aim is to increase the number of people from diverse communities and cultures who actively engage with and support the historic environment. Such an approach needs to include the development and testing of new ways to promote the past in a way that is inclusive to all and that celebrates the cultural diversity of a place’s heritage.

4 - Understanding risks, change and opportunities
To understand the world that we live and work in today and how this might change in the future, is the key. Foresight to anticipate and prepare for the impact and opportunities this could have for the historic environment is needed so that change can be more effectively managed. Heritage needs to be made more resilient. Research and analysis of current and future trends in social, political and economic change; environmental and climate change science; land use, property and infrastructure development; as well as technological and technical innovations – is of major importance.

5 - Caring for our heritage
Research is required to inform the conservation of places, sites, buildings, archives, collections and materials. Research includes monitoring and development of measures to mitigate against natural or man-made damage; buildings science aimed at improving energy efficiency of traditionally constructed buildings through retrofitting; understanding the causes of deterioration and performance of materials, buildings and sites; and identifying and sourcing appropriate materials and techniques for repair.

6 - Improving and developing heritage information management
In a world of big data and records born digitally, there needs to be management of information to better control the historic environment. Digital humanities research includes technologies, systems and services, and developing the standards that underpin these. Constant improvement of access to datasets, the analysis of information, and its communication, preservation, use and reuse, is essential.

7 - Supporting and improving the heritage sector
The heritage sector needs to be thoroughly understood - its strategic aims, composition, organisation, capacity and threats. Research includes understanding the profile of those employed in the heritage professions, labour market intelligence, and training and knowledge needs analysis, as well as understanding commercial practice and community engagement. This will inform and better deliver services to the sector.

8 - Inspiring others with the research
Research inspires and promotes public understanding and enjoyment. To develop new and improved ways to communicate the research, it is necessary to understand the audiences better, to define how the research is used. This allows for the right approaches, technologies and media to communicate and engage with more people through the research.

9 - Developing technology and tools
A strategy that includes the development of innovative and smarter technologies, techniques and tools or finding new applications for those developed elsewhere, enables the strategy to work better and more cost effectively.

Reference : ‘Our Research Strategy and Agenda’ – published by Historic England, 1 December 2016 on LinkedIn

Paul Rappoport
Heritage 21- CEO
17 January 2017

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