Heritage Decisions: Increasing participation from where you are
Heritage is about what we value: places, buildings, objects, memories, cultures, skills or ways of life. So why can it be so hard to get actively involved in heritage decision-making?
Through learning from each other’s approaches and conducting research experiments, the Heritage Decisions research team have developed a website and publications to explore what you can do to increase participation in museums and heritage; whether you are a leader and shaper of policy and organizations, you’re trying to do good work within structures you don’t control or whether you simply care about the culture and history of the place in which you live.
The key ideas that have emerged from the Heritage Decisions project – all ways in which to increase participation in museums and heritage – are informed by thinking systemically about ‘heritage’ as a way of then identifying how to open up organisations and processes to greater involvement: (http://heritagedecisions.leeds.ac.uk/key-ideas/situate/):
- Act: Make change from where you are
- Connect: Cross boundaries and collaborate
- Reflect: See your work through other people’s eyes
- Situate: Understand your work in context
Over the last two years a team of twenty people – researchers, policy makers, funders, museum practitioners, people who are activists about their own history and heritage – have worked together to design and then carry out a research project (http://heritagedecisions.leeds.ac.uk/research-team/).
The Heritage Decisions team were brought together by a pilot scheme developed by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Connected Communities programme. The Connected Communities ‘Co-design and Co-creation Development Awards’ scheme sought not only to enable collaborative research between researchers, policy makers, practitioners and community groups but to actively enable the collaborative development of a research agenda, from its earliest stages.
While we all had a shared interest in heritage and decision-making, the team was formed deliberately to draw into dialogue people from different backgrounds, positions and approaches. The aim was to use the team’s collective experiences, perspectives and positions to create a research project which might explore how to increase participation in heritage decision-making.