What’s over the digital horizon for heritage?

On the 8th March 2018, Heritage 2020 held its yearly foresight workshop on a digital theme, and asked the question: what’s over the digital horizon for heritage?

At a time when new technologies have already had a transformative effect on every aspect of the heritage sector, digital platforms are providing new ways to manage and engage with heritage assets. The experience is becoming more shared and interactive, and new ways to capture heritage values require a new strategic framework – as evidenced by the government’s Digital Strategy 2017 and, more recently, the launch of the Culture is Digital report.

The workshop aimed to critically examine some of the digital game-changers and their implications for the heritage sector. An opening address from Michael Ellis MP, Minister for the Arts, Heritage and Tourism, provided the strategic and policy context for the workshop. Karen Brookfield, Deputy Director (Strategy) at HLF, then spoke about recent research at HLF to understand the nature of digital outputs produced by funded projects and barriers faced by when producing digital content. Mike Heyworth, Chair of Heritage 2020, set out the format of the event which included speakers from the wider cultural sector sharing the ‘art of the possible’ on themes of data (Chris Michaels, National Gallery), audiences (Sarah Toplis, The Space) and skills.

Participants came together to discuss opportunities for collaborative working and in groups were asked to identify a single ‘digital ambition’ for each of the following four themes: 1) New audiences; 2) Skills; 3) Conservation management; 4) Re-use of data.

After pooling their ideas, the group discussing ‘new audiences’ decided that the sector needs to prioritise the use of technology to generate a better understanding of heritage audiences and their segmentation. The ‘skills’ group suggested that organisations need to capitalise on the digital literacy of individuals in order to address slow development of organisational digital maturity. The group looking at ‘re-use of data’ proposed that a shared data service should be the sector’s ambition, as it could help smaller, under-funded organisations make better use of their data. Lastly, the ‘conservation management’ group focused on Historic Environment Records with the goal of making them linked up and accessible online, and in particular, updatable and searchable.

A detailed summary of the day can be found here.

The programme for the day is available here.

Image: By Martin420 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons