Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Heritage Sector – are we doing enough?

On 16th November, we held our first ever #HeritageChat! For those of you who don't know, #HeritageChat is Heritage 2020's new consultation process. It aims to open up the conversation to the wider historic environment sector, allowing them to contribute directly to Heritage 2020's activities.

Our first session focused on innovation and entrepreneurship across the sector, a topic chosen by our hosts at the Historic Houses Association. The hosts for each #HeritageChat will rotate each month, allowing different organisations to get involved.

Over the course of an hour, we packed in five questions, submitted by the sector and chosen by our hosts. These were:

Q1: What are some good examples of innnovation and entrepreneurship underway within the sector?

Q2: What are the barriers to innovation and entrepreneurship in the heritage sector?

Q3: How can heritage trustees lead for innovation?

Q4: Should we do more to promote and celebrate failure in order to encourage calculated risk-taking and innovation?

Q5: Is entrepreneurial thinking essential for heritage to survive and thrive in c21?

After a cautious start, the first #HeritageChat got underway! We had some great responses, with some broad themes suggested by the discussion.

The importance of partnerships was highlighted early on, as both good examples of innovation and as a solution to overcoming some barriers.

Building on this idea of shared experience, the need to promote and celebrate failure was generally acknowledged – as both a way of promoting more openness within the sector, and to learn from our mistakes.

Nonetheless, the difficulty of acknowledging failures on a public platform was discussed – highlighting some useful solutions already present in the sector:

Diversity was also referred to repeatedly as an essential component of innovation. From skills, to personal background, to governance models, the need to have a range of options and perspectives to choose from came across very strongly.

The final question – of whether heritage needs innovation to survive and thrive – was met with a resounding yes!

We're glad you all enjoyed the session – next month's will be at the same time (13:00-14:00) on Thursday, 21st December 2017. The next topic will be, 'Heritage and the High Street: Which Way Now?'

And many thanks again to our hosts at the Historic Houses Association – bravely stepping up to take on the first #HeritageChat!