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RSA Fellows and non-Fellows joined us for the launch of the Heritage Network on the 29th January in London.

The event included a succession of brief talks showcasing the heritage index and how it can be used as an advocacy tool, as well as presenting the network’s vision and aspirations. Maddi Nicholson presented on Art Gene’s work on The Islands and Bays of Barrow and Furness Coastal Team, a project which celebrated Barrow in Furness’s top ranking score in the 2015 Heritage Index  for the quality of its landscapes and the number of its nature reserves while addressing its position as 162nd for how local communities used their landscape. The case study highlighted how the Index can be used to influence the work of local activists. Martin Newman FRSA, previously a  Heritage Ambassador, gave an overview of the heritage landscape in Swindon as well as the impact of the Index on local heritage.

These case studies were followed by some group work where participants were invited to discuss the challenges they would like the network to address. The following five themes emerged from various groups:

 

  • Heritage Index: raise awareness, promote it, maximise its potential as an advocacy tool;

 

  • Funding: involving businesses, philanthropists and maximizing funding opportunities (through collaborative funding bids);

 

  • Advocacy: making the case; the value and relevance of heritage to communities (from neighbourhood level), to the economy and society;

 

  • Dissemination and collaboration: sharing good practise and experiences, make the most of the work that is already being done;

 

  • Conservation:  (and preservation) and the tensions with attracting higher numbers of visitors;

 

This was an extremely helpful activity that will contribute to shaping the focus of the network and its priorities. The Heritage Network is now live and is supported by over 200 enthusiastic and passionate members, who will strive to address these five key thematic areas of focus in their local contexts.

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