How should heritage decisions be made?

Act: Make change from where you are

Act

Don’t wait for someone else to take responsibility, do-heritage-yourself.

Although many people have strong views on heritage, it often gets claimed by professionals ‘on behalf of’ the public, and then managed ‘for everyone’ and ‘for future generations’. In a sense, the needs of the unknown future are privileged over those of the known present. Because of this heritage can often seem to be someone else’s responsibility or, if you do want to take responsibility, it can seem as though you need to wait for people in decision-making positions to initiate, to validate or to give permission.

One thing many of the research team had in common was that they don’t accept this reading of heritage for one minute. They make things happen; they don’t take no for an answer, they work to stretch their institutions’ expectations, they re-engineer organisational structures. They take decisions into their own hands and try to enable others to take decisions about things that matter to them.

Danny Callaghan, The Potteries Tile Trail

Action not words. Individuals and small groups of people can and do make a difference – sometimes a highly significant one. You really don’t need permission to act in most situations. Frankly, if something matters to me I do something (usually practical) about it. Creativity and lateral thinking are powerful weapons in your battle. Your energy and passion are highly infectious – your actions may be socially contagious. You too can lead heritage decision-making in your area.

Alex Hale, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland

Working with a diverse group of people within the team has enabled me to recognize how you can make little changes, ‘tweaks’ if you like, to your working practices. These are often through collaborative partnerships that will effect positive change to your work and could also engender greater changes from within the system that you work in. Taking colleagues ‘along’ is a vital part of this. Keeping others informed and telling them about the pitfalls and progress that you’ve made is a very important aspect of this working practice.

John Lawson, Storyteller, Loftus, Kathy Cremin, Hive and Mike Benson, Bede’s World

‘Freedom of self’… The phrase was used by a worker in the Tenement Museum in New York in describing how it felt to work there. We believe in this ‘freedom of self’ to be yourself within the museum workplace. Being all that you can be and bringing diversity and difference, are critical factors in how to shift democratic leadership/activism and realizing the north star of mission.

© Copyright Leeds 2017