Engaging with Policy in the UK: a report from our joint conference with AHRC Heritage

The AHRC Heritage Priority Area and RESCUE: The British Archaeological Trust organised a one day conference on ‘Engaging with Policy in the UK: Responding to Changes in Planning, Heritage and the Arts’ on Saturday the 27th October at UCL’s Institute of Archaeology.  This was one of a series of activities undertaken to draw together academics, civil servants, private and professional bodies, and civil society organisations to address challenges and uncertainty from changing policies.  The aim was to connect researchers, practitioners and policy makers involved in the arts, culture, heritage and the natural/historic environment around key areas of shared concern.

The event was and remains timely.  Many of us are aware of changes in the arts and heritage landscape that are directly impacting university departments, practitioners, contractors, employees, civil servants, and even civil society.  There are, however, opportunities to be involved in the future direction of these sectors.

There have been significant changes in the political landscape, and increasing numbers of consultations/calls for evidence. It is therefore also now timely to provide the relevant information/evidence or highlight key issues as we reshape policy as well as withdraw from the EU, in areas of concern such as how immigration policies will impact our sectors to whether the natural and historic environment is adequately protected in British Law, or how the arts, culture and heritage will be funded.

The programme to the conference can be found here, in which invited speakers discussed:

  • The challenges and opportunities resulting from changes in policy which impact the culture, arts and heritage sectors
  • The role which organisations and civil society can have in shaping policy and decision-making, and/or influencing government
  • Views on opportunities that can be taken to inform policy

The event itself was organised into two sessions and one panel discussion to focus specifically on:

  • Building culture and the protection of the natural/historic environment into the Planning System;
  • Understanding the changing role of culture, museums and the arts for wider society;
  • Addressing the need for evidence and highlighting key issues and concerns of the changing arts and heritage landscape.

We were also absolutely delighted to welcome our two keynote speakers:

  • Lord Colin Renfrew (University of Cambridge)
  • Cllr Huw Thomas (Leader of Cardiff Council)

Followed by confirmed speakers:

  • Chris Patrick (Conservation Officer, Birmingham City Council)
  • Duncan McCallum (Policy Director, Historic England)
  • Eleonora Belfiore (Professor of Comms & Media Studies, Loughborough University)
  • Evelyne Godfrey (Academic visitor of St Antony’s College, Oxford University; Advocacy Officer, ICON Archaeology Group)
  • Gail Boyle (Sn Curator, Bristol Museum; Council, Gloucestershire Archaeological Society; Chair, Society for Museum Archaeology, Trustee, Treasure Valuation Committee)
  • Georgina Holmes-Skelton, (Head of Government Affairs, National Trust)
  • Gill Chitty (Director of Conservation, York University)
  • John Martin (Artistic Director, Pan Intercultural Arts)
  • Jude Plouviez (Chair, RESCUE)
  • Mags Patten (Exec Director of Public Policy, Arts Council)
  • Richard Hughes (President, ICOMOS-UK)
  • Rob Lennox (Policy Advisor, CIfA)
  • Taryn Nixon (Archaeologist, Taryn Nixon Heritage Works)
  • Victoria Bankes Price (Planning Advisor, Woodland Trust)

In particular, we aimed to join various efforts to stimulate a cross-sector collaboration to break down informal barriers between government, practitioners, researchers and civil sectors.  An outcome, to raise awareness of the ongoing feedback, comments and consultations that are being submitted to government inquiries and to stimulate more joint effort to provide evidence-based insights to targeted consultations. It also helped inform different groups on how to get more involved in shaping changing policies.

More information from the day can be found on twitter using the #EngagingwPolicy hashtag.

Organiser handles are @AHRCHeritage and @Rescue_News

Videos of talks from the day can be found below.


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