How an environment can be created that supports the sector in its advocacy.

The Heritage 2020 Framework document outlines the vision and priorities for collaboration for each working group.

  • By 2020 the evidence base demonstrating the social and economic value of the historic environment will be refined, developed and well-grounded in collaborative research and evaluation.
  • A new Government policy statement on the positive contribution made by the historic environment will have been published with sectoral and cross-departmental support.
  • The extensive and collective impacts of activities undertaken by those outside the heritage sector will be better understood by the sector and by those decision makers themselves.
  • There will be a clearer understanding in central and local Government of their direct responsibilities and their indirect, facilitating role.
  • Heritage organisations will be more confident in their advocacy, and in many cases ground-breaking in their use of digital media to get across the importance of the historic environment.
  • A greater breadth and diversity of advocates for the historic environment will include a range of new groups with newly discovered interests in the historic environment.

Priorities for collaboration

The key priorities that were identified for collaborative action by the sector, working together are:

  • To better understand, (through collaborative research and evaluation activities), and reinforce, the evidence base, demonstrating the social and economic value of heritage to society.
  • Encouraging Government to work closely with the sector in producing a new cross-departmental policy statement on the positive contribution the historic environment makes to sustainable growth and well-being in England, matching those in Scotland and Wales.
  • Engaging more effectively beyond the sector with all those who affect the historic environment in the course of their activities, to raise awareness of that impact, and find collective means of managing it in the most positive way.
  • Working with central and local Government to ensure the right frameworks and resources are in place to deliver what only Government can do, and to help the sector help itself and others.
  • Supporting heritage groups in developing the tools )especially digital ones) that will help them to engage more broadly and become more powerful and effective advocates.
  • Engaging with organisations, communities and others who have not until now shown an interest in heritage and encouraging them to become advocates for those parts of the heritage that they particularly value.
  • Promoting a higher level of philanthropic giving to heritage projects and organisations.

The working group has considered these priorities, and discussed the associated issues. A mapping exercise has been carried out that identifies activity in the sector and opportunities for collaborative working. The group has identified its first actions for 2016-17.

Priorities for 2016-17

As a result of the sector working together, the group seeks to achieve a long-term shift to a positive vision for the contribution that heritage makes to Britain.
The first set of actions towards this focus on better understanding, and reinforcing, the evidence base demonstrating the social and economic value of heritage to society so that it can be communicated powerfully to Government.

Action Plan


January 2019 Update

The group is currently working to better understand and reinforce the evidence base demonstrating the social and economic value of heritage to society so that it can be powerfully communicated to Government.

18 July 2018

The group met on the 18 July 2018 and discussed the work that had been done to date to collect sources of sector evidence and how that could be shared with the sector in the form of infographic resources on the five themes identified in the group’s data messaging workshop of June 2017, plus an additional theme of health and wellbeing. It is intended by the group that the infographics can be used by the wider sector for advocacy work. However, there are some areas of evidence missing and the group identified potential people/organisations that might be able to help to research and fill these gaps.

The group discussed its work to develop briefing papers on four ‘industrial strategy’ themes of skills, tourism, science & infrastructure and re-use/regeneration and the potential benefit of also using this work to inform Heritage Council discussions. The timing of other industrial strategy sector deal work was discussed, and how the heritage sector could align to the work of other sectors and show where heritage makes a positive contribution. It was agreed that the four strands should be developed further and wider reference groups for each should be identified.

21 March 2018

The group met on 21st March and carried out a thorough review of its Action Plan to assess progress and ensure it is still fit for purpose. On the topic of ‘evidence’, the group returned to the issue of plenty of evidence being available, Heritage Counts being a good vehicle for the presentation of data, but a potential gap in how individual organisations are using evidence to support arguments about the value and positive contribution of the historic environment.

The group then discussed preliminary work that had been carried out on themes for a heritage industrial strategy. It agreed that the next step is to review which elements are best placed in a ‘heritage’ sector deal and which could be integrated in other sector deals. The group discussed the benefit of carrying out this analysis not only in terms of the sector’s alignment to the Industrial Strategy, but also to contribute to the work of the Heritage Council.

6 June 2017
The group met on 6th June 2017 to discuss progress on the areas it had identified as a priority for action. It reviewed the data messaging workshop held earlier in the day, the goal of which was to help the sector make better use of existing evidence. The workshop had prioritised two key audiences, developed associated narratives, and had highlighted where key data is missing. Next steps are for the workshop facilitator to develop resources that can be used by the sector. The group discussed the potential to develop thinking around a ‘heritage sector deal’ in response to the Industrial Strategy. Work on sector statistics was reviewed, with Natural England’s MENE survey identified as a potential model for Taking Part. Information sharing post-election was also discussed, in consideration of targeted communication between minsters and MPs and member organisations. Wider Heritage 2020 topics that were covered, included the need to allocate dedicated time to assessing if and where working group activity crossed over at the next HEF subcommittee meeting on 11th July 2017; and the 2018 Foresight session. The group agreed to develop session outlines for three themes (digital, climate change, health and wellbeing) with the decision on which theme will be used for the Foresight day to be made at the HEF subcommittee meeting.

24 February 2017
During this meeting, the group discussed mechanisms for addressing the perception of heritage as a barrier to growth and identified the Housing White Paper, the Historic England triennial review, and the Industrial Strategy as forthcoming opportunities.

The group discussed feedback from the Heritage 2020 consultation that ran at the end of 2016. It noted the requests for evidence of the tangible benefit of heritage and for both the Helping Things to Happen working group and Heritage 2020 as a whole to act as a representative of the sector. The group agreed that they would bring together people who are involved in, for example, consultation responses and Brexit work so that they can work together. It was agreed that the the group would not provide individual responses, but would work to provide an over-arching narrative to support a shift in perceptions around the value of heritage.

The group reviewed its work on the literature/evidence review and associated ‘key facts’. It discussed the proposal for a workshop that would help to match data to audiences and generate resources that would help people communicate key heritage facts more powerfully.

8 November 2016
The group heard updates on the work of the other Heritage 2020 working groups and was particularly interested in the Public Engagement group’s focus on diversity, and the opportunities that presented for complementary activity.

The Helping Things to Happen group discussed the evidence that exists around why people engage with heritage and how heritage influences/affects individuals. The National Trust has contributed the time of an intern to bring together a clear evidence base to show the power of the historic environment in shaping a shared cultural identity. The group discussed evidence sources and the process of bringing together such data.

The group then turned its attention to how to communicate evidence effectively. The role of comparisons in making existing facts more powerful was highlighted and the group agreed to pool key facts with the aim of producing a resource that can be used by the sector to support their arguments on the value of the heritage sector.