Heritage Practice

Valuing Voices: Giving all our Pasts a Future

Premiership Room A, Melbourne Cricket Ground 06/10/2016 10:50 am - 11:10 am

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Lesley Walker

The recent events around the referendum on Britain’s exit from the European Union highlighted issues of trust, democracy and identity. The People’s Ground became a battleground which illuminated deep chasms in British society and people’s rejection of gatekeepers and experts. As well as governments, heritage, arts and cultural organisations have much to learn from this. Intangible values enrich, reveal and sustain our heritage and these values are largely built on trust, people sharing stories, emotions, memories, and connections. Given Australia is looking at new ways to manage its heritage, this paper considers how the Heritage Lottery Fund (UK) uses its funding to transform the way people engage with, learn about and share their heritage. From the smallest community organisation to national institutions, people and communities are being empowered and challenged to make decisions about what they value and why. This paper explores how funding is used to encourage heritage organisations to adopt more participatory and democratic practice, to value voices and work with people to shape and share what matters to them. Finally itwill consider some of the issues around agency and participation, opening up institutions and inviting people in. This could give all our pasts a future.