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Heritage Debates

The Heritage Debates

The Heritage Alliance holds a series of #heritagedebates on issues affecting the heritage sector annually throughout England.

Our Heritage Debates aim to stimulate new thinking on the benefits of our heritage to us all. These debates therefore help to transmit new ideas to ensure that the new perspectives generated through research are understood by those formulating policy and practice in relation to heritage, and equally, that the major challenges facing the heritage sector are understand by researchers.

Make sure you follow the debate on twitter using the #heritagedebate hashtag.

Ecclesiastical Insurance

Heritage Debates are made possible through the kind sponsorship of Ecclesiastical Insurance.

The London Heritage Debate: Heritage & Research: Bridging the Gap

This eighth Heritage Alliance Heritage Debate will explore how heritage research influences public and private sector decision-making – or not. Millions of choices are made in the property industry and by modest private owners every day, while champions like The Heritage Alliance need to access relevant and timely evidence to support their advocacy. Universities are increasingly required to be more engaged with external audiences and to demonstrate impact but the outcomes of academic research, whether from history or psychology faculties, do not always reach the audiences that can put them to good use.

Find out more information and sign-up for the event by clicking here

The London Heritage Debate: The H Word: Heritage ‘revisited’

This seventh Heritage Alliance Heritage Debate explored perceptions of the word ‘Heritage’. Is it a help or hindrance in attracting political recognition or private investment or do outdated connotations perpetuate the myths that heritage is a brake on growth or just a warm bathe in nostalgia?

ComRes, the leading research consultancy, launched a new snapshot of public perceptions of the word ‘heritage’. Speakers from the media and development industry discussed perceptions and misconceptions from their own experience. The aim, with the help of the audience, was to find ways to bring the wider public understanding in line with contemporary thinking of our heritage as a dynamic, strategic resource of benefit to government, industry, communities and individuals.

The podcast for the event is now available below or here. Photographs are now also available here.

The London Heritage Debate: Heritage and Government: Towards a coherent policy?

Time and location: 14th July 2015, School of Oriental and African Studies, London  

‘Heritage & Government’ – the sixth in the Alliance’s series of Heritage Debates and first to be held in London – examined the changing role the state has played in supporting our heritage for public benefit.

Heritage Alliance Chairman Loyd Grossman led an outstanding panel of heritage champions. Conrad Bird, Director of the Cabinet Office’s GREAT Britain campaign illustrated the importance of heritage to the UK’s position at the top of the soft power league. Sir Laurie Magnus, Chairman of Historic England outlined the new English Heritage model and warned that ‘the gravy train of state support has gone’. Professor Sara Selwood, Editor of Cultural Trends, examined the relationship between research and public policy making. The 150-strong audience raised issues about education, everyday heritage, VAT and developers’ perceptions of heritage, local authority capacity and the fate of Local Authority heritage assets.

Follow the lively tweets at #heritagedebate or find the images on our Flickr Page, while the podcast is now available below or here.

The Alliance’s Heritage Debates series is generously sponsored by Ecclesiastical Insurance. This event was is held in partnership with the Bartlett School of Planning (University College London) which hosts The Place Alliance.

The Newcastle Heritage Debate: Heritage and Identity: What makes you who you are?

Time and location: 5th November, Armstrong Building, Newcastle University, Newcastle. 

Is heritage just a socially acceptable version of tribalism? Has social media produced a culture of ‘place-less’ relationships? These were some of the central themes explored in a major public debate on heritage and identity held at Newcastle University on Wednesday 5th November 2014.

The questions of how heritage affects people’s sense of identity and what heritage a North Easterner or Geordie would single out as shaping their sense of self were also on the agenda for the debate. The event was sponsored by specialist heritage insurer Ecclesiastical and held in partnership with University of Newcastle’s The International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies.

The discussion was chaired by Peter Stone, Head of the University’s School of Arts and Cultures. The audience of academics and heritage specialists heard from panel members Graham Bell, Europa Nostra Council and Director North of England Civic Trust, Izzy Mohammed, Audience Engagement Coordinator, Library of Birmingham and Dr Rhiannon Mason, Senior Lecturer in Museum, Gallery, and Heritage Studies.

Attendees, readers of the Newcastle Journal and local MPs were invited to respond to 4 questions about symbols and characteristics of the North East in the Journal’s piece http://tinyurl.com/oqp2w67 by 10th November.

  • Peter Stone, Head of the University’s School of Arts and Cultures.
  • Graham Bell, Europa Nostra Council and Director North of England Civic Trust. Download his presentation here
  • Izzy Mohammed, Audience Engagement Coordinator, Library of Birmingham. Download his presentation here
  • Dr Rhiannon Mason, Senior Lecturer in Museum, Gallery, and Heritage Studies. Download her presentation here

The Birmingham Heritage Debate: Heritage & Philanthropy Turning Public Passion into Pounds

Time and location: 24th June 2014, Austin Court, Birmingham. 

The Chairman of The Heritage Alliance, Loyd Grossman, led a lively debate on heritage and philanthropy organised by The Heritage Alliance on 24th June at Austin Court, Birmingham.

The debate, Heritage and Philanthropy: Turning Public Passion into Pounds, covered topics including how to persuade people that culture is just as important as other causes in a crowded market, how to attract corporate and donor sponsorship for heritage outside London, how to foster common interests between the heritage and arts sector, alongside demonstrating the importance of social justice factors and the importance of valuing local support.

The four panelists, Loyd Grossman, Heritage Alliance Chairman, Martin Kaufman, Martin Kaufman Philanthropy, Nick Blinco, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, University Birmingham, and Anna Southall, Trustee, Barrow Cadbury Trust, each held the floor before the debate was opened up to the audience.

Nick Blinco, Director of Engagement at Birmingham University, provided a practical perspective on philanthropic fundraising from his experience working in the University and higher-education sector, arguing that heritage organisations should remove all barriers to their fundraising strategies when understanding each individual’s donor’s needs and desires.

Anna Southall, Barrow Cadbury Trust, argued that heritage is essentially a social justice issue, drawing on her own experience to highlight key ‘tips’ for fundraisers in the heritage sector.

Martin Kauffman, Kauffman Philanthropy, argued that the lack of an effective unified public campaign which demonstrates the importance of our heritage and culture to the overall social, economic and future well-being of the United Kingdom has meant it will continue to receive minimal private philanthropic giving in comparison to other sectors.

Birmingham Heritage Debate June 2014 podcast


The Cambridge Heritage Debate: Heritage & Tourism: Who Needs Whom?

Time and location: 17 October 2012, Cripps Court, Magdalene College, 1-3 Chesterton Road, Cambridge, CB4  3AD

The Debate explored the relationship between heritage and tourism and the extent to which heritage is becoming understood as simply a branch of the tourism industry.

The debate was an opportunity to review the changes in our perceptions and understanding in this relationship as it is the 25th anniversary year of the publication of Robert Hewison’s controversial The Heritage Industry: Britain in a climate of decline (1987). The event brought the heritage community, owners and users, together with senior figures from the heritage movement, the tourism sector, the private sector, and the world of academia. Chairman: Loyd Grossman OBE FSA, Chairman of the Heritage Alliance Panelists:

  • James Berresford, Chief Executive, VisitEngland
  • Robert Hewison, Writer, Visiting Professor, Lancaster University
  •  Dame Fiona Reynolds, Director General, The National Trust
  •  Marie Louise Stig Sørensen, Reader, Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Cambridge


The York debate: Heritage & Television: Who Profits More?

12 June 2013, The Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, Fossgate, York, YO1 9XD

Broadcast heritage is a huge source of both information and entertainment, but what does heritage gain from this extensive exposure? The Debate explored whether the face of heritage on TV really is a true picture, how television affects our perceptions of heritage, and how it influences the way heritage organisations engage with audiences. Chairman: Loyd Grossman OBE FSA, Chairman of the Heritage Alliance Panellists:

  • Dr Anna Whitelock, Senior Lecturer, Royal Holloway, and Author,
  • John Goodall, Architectural Editor, Country Life
  •  Ed Taylor, Executive Producer, ITV Studios

See the video from the debate here:


The Bristol Debate: Heritage & Profit: Who Gains Most?

6 November 2013, Paintworks, Bath Road, Bristol, BS4 3EH

The Debate explored how public and private interests use heritage to achieve their objectives and how economic activity around our older buildings, our heritage railways, our collections, our leisure moments and festival venues drive millions of businesses across the country.

Far from being a brake on economic growth, heritage underpins some of our most powerful industries – tourism, construction and the creative and cultural industries.

  • Loyd Grossman OBE FSA, Chairman, The Heritage Alliance
  • Mayor George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, Architect, Entrepreneur
  • Dr Anna Farthing, Director Harvest Heritage, Arts and Media; Harvest Films Ltd
  • Nick Sturge, Centre Director for SETsquared, Director, The Engine Shed