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Heritage partnership to boost public participation

Posted on 21 November 2012

Arts Council England has awarded funding for a new initiative to support regional museums in England who want to forge participatory relationships with the public.

The winning partnership between The Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past at the University of York (IPUP), The Diversity in Heritage Group (DHG), The Collections Trust and The British Museum will deliver the “Supporting Practice in Participation” project.

IPUP will lead the project, awarded as part of Arts Council England’s Renaissance Strategic Support Fund for English Museums. It aims to encourage museums, heritage institutions, and arts organisations to share expertise in developing innovative and exciting ways for the public to participate.

The partners will build a user-friendly, resource-rich portal to be hosted on Collections Link, the intelligence hub site run by The Collections Trust, to engage those who work in museums, both in the UK and overseas.  It will provide professionals with research and resources.

Accompanying regional meetings in England will encourage collaborative working, skill development and knowledge sharing amongst arts and heritage professionals.

The British Museum will also support dissemination in the museum sector in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Hedley Swain, Director of Museums, Arts Council England, said: “We are confident that, in awarding funding to the Supporting Practice in Participation project, institutions will be assisted in building sustainable and exciting relationships with their audiences. It is extremely important that heritage institutions work in partnership with those who use their services, ensuring that they are socially relevant, inclusive, and an entertaining experience.”

Professor Helen Weinstein, of IPUP, said: “This project fulfils IPUP’s aim of transforming the relationship between academics and practitioners in the heritage sector. IPUP is working with our partners to provide research that is useful and useable for the sector.” 

Tracy-Ann Smith, Chair of the Diversity in Heritage Group (DHG), said: “Many arts and cultural heritage organizations already excel in public engagement but forming genuine partnership and sharing decision making with the public is much more challenging. Practitioners have told us that they want support with resources and skill-sharing networks to deliver meaningful participation, so the launch of this project is very timely”.

This project fulfils IPUP’s aim of transforming the relationship between academics and practitioners in the heritage sector

Professor Helen Weinstein

Nick Poole of the Collections Trust added: “The academic community continues to produce a significant body of knowledge, evidence and research in the cultural heritage field, but engagement with this material by the profession remains limited. What excites me about this project is that our partnership can provide a better conversation between academics, practitioners and policy makers about what research is needed to develop sustainable audience engagement and meaningful public participation for the future.”

John Orna-Ornstein, Head of National Programmes at the British Museum, said: “Museums engage and connect people, making them more important now than ever before. This project is part of an effort to support museums to become increasingly relevant to the widest range of people at a time of economic, social and political change. The British Museum is delighted to be involved with the project and we look forward to supporting the dissemination and facilitating the project’s impact in England and beyond.”

Notes to editors:

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153

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