How to involve as many people as possible from all backgrounds in heritage.

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

  • By 2020 public engagement levels will be significantly higher, especially among currently under-represented groups, as a result of programmes and strategies which promote people’s entitlement to connect with the historic environment.
  • A more diverse range of people will be working or volunteering to care for the historic environment and making a formal commitment through membership of national and local heritage bodies.
  • Communities will be more actively engaged in the planning system as it affects the historic environment. For example through producing local lists, conservation area appraisals and Neighbourhood Forums as well as through commenting on planning proposals.
  • The potential of formal and informal education to increase participation among children and young people will be established to link heritage organisations to local schools.
  • There will be stronger links between the historic environment sector and a wider range of non-heritage organisations sharing similar objectives, with the benefits people experience from engaging with the historic environment understood, resources and delivered in a wider strategic context.

Priorities for collaboration

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

  • Increasing overall levels of participation – numbers of volunteers, visitors and heritage organisation members, with a particular emphasis on increasing diversity through effective strategies to engage under-represented groups.
  • Giving individuals and communities the tools and encouragement to better understand, investigate, manage, enjoy, make decisions about and raise funds for the historic environment around them.
  • Championing high quality learning experiences for children and young people within and outside the classroom, supporting the delivery of the school curriculum and the wider Cultural Education agenda.
  • Developing improved communication and alliances within and beyond the historic environment sector so that the benefits people experience from engaging with the historic environment are understood, resource and delivered in a wider strategic context.
  • Supporting, sustaining and developing programmes and strategies which promote people’s entitlement to connect with their historic environment.

The working group has created an ‘activity log’ that captures activity in the sector against these priorities. It has mapped the Heritage 2020 Framework priorities against the headings of the Culture White Paper and has identified priority areas for which it will develop actions for 2016-17.

Priorities for 2016-17

Understand what diversity means to the heritage sector and identify where the big possibilities for partnerships between heritage organisations and organisations that bring diversity lie.
The desired outcome is an ethos of cultural entitlement where everyone has a right to understand the values of cultural heritage, has a sense of ownership of cultural assets, and advocates a collective responsibility for the cultural landscape.

Action Plan


January 2019 Update

The group are continuing to investigate what the key conditions are for successful young engagement within heritage (building on the knowledge learnt from their July Twitter chat on this theme).  They are also working to promote the entitlement of people to connect with the Historic Environment.

10 July 2018

The group met on 10 July 2018 and following on from their last meeting, discussed their focus areas of youth participation and diversity. The group then reviewed the objectives on their updated action plan, and while doing so, noted that the unique strength of the group is its strong representation of people outside of heritage (i.e. VInspired, IVE). The group shared information on youth engagement projects that are already taking place, noting there is much activity in the natural environment and museums sectors, but less in the built environment. The group concluded that heritage organisations must start to see young people as an asset and not a threat, and that there should be increased training and support for heritage professionals working on youth projects.

The Group decided it would be helpful to develop a theory of change for their work. It was noted that it would allow them to think about where to go after 2020 and identify the gaps that exist in the sector. It was also suggested that such a document could help other organisations to identify issues that relate to them. However, it was also noted that resources and availability may make the development of this a problem, but that this could possibility be overcome by building research connections with the academic sector.

13 March 2018

Prior to the meeting on 13 March, the group’s Chair had held individual conversations with representatives of the organisations involved in the group to understand their current priorities as they relate to those in the Heritage 2020 Framework.

At the meeting, the group carried out a thorough review of its Action Plan and agreed a new focus on increasing youth engagement with the historic environment. Organisations that take part in the group, and the individuals representing them, all have good knowledge of evaluation schemes and projects aimed at increasing youth participation. The group agreed to share this knowledge to generate an understanding of what makes a youth engagement project successful – so that this could ultimately be shared with the wider sector, as part of the group’s work to increase participation with heritage by under-represented groups.

30 October 2017
Gill Bull (CBA) was announced as the group’s next Chair, to take up the role following the October meeting. The group discussed potential contributions to upcoming cross-Heritage 2020 activities, including the planned 2018 Foresight session on ‘digital opportunities’ and the Twitter #HeritageChat series due to be launched at the end of this year.

The group continued its discussion of opportunities for the heritage sector to engage more closely with the National Citizen Service and will work together to maximise these. Similarly, plans were made to open up the Historic England positive action traineeship programme to the rest of the historic environment sector. It is hoped that invitations to the sector to participate can go out before Christmas so that placements can be advertised in the Spring.

A brief for a project looking into examples of organisations improving diversity in governance is being drafted; the group shared contacts to help develop it further.

Finally, the Public Engagement action plan’s priority areas and focus for action will be reviewed ahead of the next meeting.

3 July 2017
The group met on 3rd July 2017, welcoming new participants and acknowledging the contributions of those stepping down from the group. Jessica Taplin, Chief Executive of VInspired, gave an overview of VInspired, including its work as an NCS delivery partner. The group has previously identified engagement with NCS as an opportunity to engage young people in heritage. The group also discussed the Historic England positive traineeship model might be used by the wider sector, with possible opportunities arising from Autumn 2017. A project proposed by the group to research how organisations outside the historic environment sector address issues of diversity in governance now has financial support, and work shall begin on a brief. Finally, the group discussed the link between heritage, and health and wellbeing, noting the success of and recommendations from the Churches Conservation Trust conference. The topic of health and wellbeing is one of three due to be considered by the Heritage 2020 HEF subcommittee as the potential theme of the 2018 Foresight day.

20 March 2017
The group discussed responses to the consultation, particularly the focus on ‘local’ in relation to ‘national’ and renewed focus on community leadership. It agreed to align with the work of the Constructive Conservation and Sustainable Management group in its approach to working with community-based groups, such as their work around the transfer of assets.

After reviewing its Action Plan, the group agreed to take forward work to develop a summary document, ‘Pathways to Participation with Heritage’, aimed at sign-posting the sector to opportunities for working with organisations with strengths in addressing diversity issues.

The group discussed engaging with the National Citizen Service as a means of increasing participation among young people with the historic environment and heritage organisations. This is to form one of the areas of activity for 2017-18.

The group also discussed the Heritage 2020 Foresight day, on the theme of diversity in the historic environment sector and agreed to focus on promoting engagement in governance in its forward plan for 2017-18. Activities will seek to identify and share examples of good practice in engaging a diverse range of people with governance of organisations, drawn from within and beyond the historic environment sector.

As one of the first steps towards implementing the outcomes of the discussion on diversity in the historic environment sector, the group is contacting a wider range of organisations with a view to their participation in the working group.

7 November 2016
The meeting focused on diversity in public engagement as the first theme to be addressed through collaborative working. Topics of discussion included: defining the core issue in terms of engagement for the heritage sector, existing data, and how to tap into knowledge that exists elsewhere.
A three-step analysis of what is needed to support organisations in being more active in addressing diversity issues was agreed as:
1. agreeing what diversity means for the sector
2. identifying the barriers or key challenges for diversity in public engagement
3. finding out where the opportunities for improving diversity in public engagement lie.
The group discussed how to take this work forward to produce a resource that could be used by the wider sector. A first step is to invite contributions to the issue through the Heritage 2020 consultation.