House of Lords Asked to Recognise the Value of World Heritage for Post-Covid Recovery

Announcement, News
A selection of our exceptional World Heritage Sites

The UK’s 32 World Heritage Sites should not be viewed as a burden which the government are simply obliged to protect. They should be empowered to reach their full potential as generators of jobs, economic regeneration, and joy.  This would not only greatly assist these special places’ own post-Covid recovery but also support the wider heritage sector, the tourism industry and the UK’s local and national economy.

This is something the government must understand and provide support for but it is  thankfully becoming part of the conversation – a discussion on the UK’s World Heritage recently occurred in the House of Lords where Baroness Andrews asked “is the Minister aware that all our 32 world heritage sites need urgent help to recover from the impact of Covid-19? If our heritage assets are to help in the rebuilding of Britain, their custodians need sustainable funding to do so. When will they know what share of the DCMS cultural package they will get?”

Since the beginning of the 2020 pandemic, World Heritage UK has been supporting the UK’s World Heritage Sites by facilitating a monthly online Site Coordinators’ meeting. Much like our physical events (sadly not possible this year), this digital space has become a valued forum for sites to support one another and to share advice, expertise, and intelligence, both about the ongoing situation and wider World Heritage issues.

The discussions we have facilitated have also identified common themes and shared concerns, including how to adapt sites for social distancing, funding challenges, green recovery, and the decolonisation of heritage. The presence of DCMS and other heritage NDPBs at these meetings is a testament to the importance of these conversations.

Though many UK World Heritage sites were originally forced to close, as they have reopened, they are already proving their value as important places for pandemic recovery. Most sites, especially natural or mixed sites, are outdoors or have large spaces compatible with social distancing and have become vital assets for wellbeing. This can be seen in the changing audiences coming to UK World Heritage Sites over the past four months: The English Lake District, for example, is seeing a totally new demographic of visitors who have never been to the lakes (or indeed the countryside) before. However, other sites have struggled with access and social distancing requirements, making reopening more difficult – this has been the case for Orkney where ferries have been very limited and their normal tourism from cruises has bee wiped out this year.

The World Heritage UK report published last year

World Heritage UK wishes to ensure that our world-class sites – both cultural and natural – not only survive the pandemic and its associated economic downturn but also thrive and positively contribute to national recovery.  There are many lessons to be gleaned from two recent reports published on the subject: The 2019 World Heritage UK Review, published last year and the recently published UKNC National Value of UNESCO to the United Kingdom Report have both highlighted the enormous untapped potential of our World Heritage Sites, pointing out that with the right support, they can be strong drivers of economic regeneration.

In the short term, World Heritage Sites can contribute to economic recovery by driving inbound and domestic tourism. Longer term, they can support the creation of jobs and employment in tourism, traditional building skills and the construction industry, contributing to sustainable regeneration and place-making. Finding new uses for old buildings is also an inherently green approach to recovery which maximises the use of our existing assets.

Increasing capacity, diversification and upskilling in the management of World Heritage Sites is vital to enable sites to realise their potential benefits.  Furthermore, higher levels of awareness of World Heritage sites within the UK and internationally will have an enormous beneficial impact for Global Britain, its cultural diplomacy and soft power.

As the UK moves into recovery post-Covid, every industry has the chance to forge a new, more sustainable path. For the heritage sector in particular, the UK’s World Heritage Sites can lead the way in fostering sustainable development by supporting local, regional, and national communities and economies whilst promoting culture and tourism in our own back yard.

World Heritage UK Business Options Appraisal tender opportunity

News

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Invitation to Tender: World Heritage UK Business Options Appraisal

World Heritage UK (WH:UK) is seeking to appoint an experienced consultant to undertake a Business Options Appraisal as part of our NLHF-funded Resilient Heritage “Unlocking the Potential” project.

The Key Objectives:

  • Generation of an Outline Strategy and Business Plan to guide the evolution of WH:UK over the next 3-5 years.
  • A framework for enhancing the organisational capacity and future resilience of WH:UK.
  • Development of briefs or action plans for further project development and fundraising opportunities

The result of this work will be a clear agenda for WH:UK’s development over a 3-5 year period and a sustainable operating base from which to expand our activities.

We appreciate the complexity of developing such a plan in an ever-shifting environment, so our aspiration is to work closely with the appointed consultants to develop something imaginative and strategic yet responsive to changing circumstances (be they financial, organisational, digital, sectoral or viral).

Contract: August 2020 – December 2020

Fee: up to £12,500 (including expenses, excluding VAT)

Submission Deadline: Sunday August 2nd 2020

Full details can be found in the Invitation to Tender document 

For additional information, expressions of interest, and questions please contact the WH:UK Resilience Project Manager: tiva.montalbano@worldheritageuk.org

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£1.57 billion investment to protect Britain’s world-class cultural, arts and heritage institutions

Announcement, News, press release, Uncategorized

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Britain’s globally renowned arts, culture and heritage industries will receive a world-leading £1.57 billion rescue package to help weather the impact of coronavirus, the government announced today.

  • Future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues will be protected with emergency grants and loans
  • Funding will also be provided to restart construction work at cultural and heritage sites paused as a result of the pandemic

Thousands of organisations across a range of sectors including the performing arts and theatres, heritage, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinema will be able to access emergency grants and loans.

The money, which represents the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture, will provide a lifeline to vital cultural and heritage organisations across the country hit hard by the pandemic. It will help them stay afloat while their doors are closed. Funding to restart paused projects will also help support employment, including freelancers working in these sectors.

Many of Britain’s cultural and heritage institutions have already received unprecedented financial assistance to see them through the pandemic including loans, business rate holidays and participation in the coronavirus job retention scheme. More than 350,000 people in the recreation and leisure sector have been furloughed since the pandemic began.

This new package will be available across the country and ensure the future of these multi billion-pound industries are secured.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

From iconic theatre and musicals, mesmerising exhibitions at our world-class galleries to gigs performed in local basement venues, the UK’s cultural industry is the beating heart of this country.

This money will help safeguard the sector for future generations, ensuring arts groups and venues across the UK can stay afloat and support their staff whilst their doors remain closed and curtains remain down.

Oliver Dowden Culture Secretary said

Our arts and culture are the soul of our nation. They make our country great and are the lynchpin of our world-beating and fast growing creative industries.

I understand the grave challenges the arts face and we must protect and preserve all we can for future generations. Today we are announcing a huge support package of immediate funding to tackle the funding crisis they face. I said we would not let the arts down, and this massive investment shows our level of commitment.

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer said:

Our world-renowned galleries, museums, heritage sites, music venues and independent cinemas are not only critical to keeping our economy thriving, employing more than 700,000 people, they’re the lifeblood of British culture.

That’s why we’re giving them the vital cash they need to safeguard their survival, helping to protect jobs and ensuring that they can continue to provide the sights and sounds that Britain is famous for.

The package announced today includes funding for national cultural institutions in England and investment in cultural and heritage sites to restart construction work paused as a result of the pandemic. This will be a big step forward to help rebuild our cultural infrastructure. This unprecedented package includes:

  • £1.15 billion support pot for cultural organisations in England delivered through a mix of grants and loans. This will be made up of £270 million of repayable finance and £880 million grants.
  • £100 million of targeted support for the national cultural institutions in England and the English Heritage Trust.
  • £120 million capital investment to restart construction on cultural infrastructure and for heritage construction projects in England which was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The new funding will also mean an extra £188 million for the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland (£33 million), Scotland (£97 million) and Wales (£59 million).

Decisions on awards will be made working alongside expert independent figures from the sector including the Arts Council England and other specialist bodies such as Historic England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.

Repayable finance will be issued on generous terms tailored for cultural institutions to ensure they are affordable. Further details will be set out when the scheme opens for applications in the coming weeks.

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive, said:

Covid-19 has hit all sectors of our economy hard, including our heritage. The historic places that help define our country are at risk of being lost forever. This emergency funding package from the Government, including £50m for heritage put at risk during the pandemic, will be a lifeline for our sector, kickstarting repair works at our historic sites which matter most to local communities. It also helps the organisations which look after so many of our precious historic sites, and protects livelihoods of skilled craft workers and businesses hit hardest by the pandemic. It will help to secure a sustainable future for the sector and those working in it, often with years of irreplaceable experience.”

Blenheim Palace UNESCO World Heritage Site re-opens to visitors

Blenheim Palace, News

Blenheim Palace's Second State Room

Blenheim Palace is set to open its doors to visitors again from Saturday, 4th July.

Widely regarded as a masterpiece of 18th century Baroque architecture, ‘Britain’s Greatest Palace’ was built as a gift to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, from Queen Anne and a grateful nation in thanks for his victory at the Battle of Blenheim on 13th August 1704.

The Oxfordshire UNESCO World Heritage Site houses one of the most important and extensive collections in Europe, which includes portraits, furniture, sculpture and tapestries.

To mark its re-opening the Palace is also putting on display a set of four Marlborough family portraits; one of which features the 4th Duke of Marlborough as a child and has never been on show to the public before.

Other new features will see the Library decorated in the style of the 1920s and the coronation robes, chairs and coronets used by the 10th Duke and Duchess for the crowning of King George VI in 1937 will also be on show.

Visitors will also be able to enjoy al fresco dining in a series of outdoor marquee pods in the Italian Garden next to the Orangery restaurant, which will be serving lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

As part of its re-opening Blenheim Palace has introduced a series of ‘keeping safe’ measures.

Daily visitor numbers are limited and admission is only via online pre-booking. Visitors will be welcomed at a safe distance, all transactions are cashless and staff in key engagement areas will be wearing personal protective equipment and be behind protective screens.

New signage, barriers and announcements form part of the visit, and additional staff are on hand to provide advice and information. Extra temporary outdoor toilets with washing and hand sanitising areas have also been set up.

Visitors can also watch an explanatory video online prior to arriving on site, which clearly explains the new procedures.

For more information please contact Steph Duncan on 07881 356 736 or at SDuncan@blenheimpalace.com or Drew Cunliffe at drew@flamingo-marketing.co.uk .

Note: The Untold Story and the Churchill Exhibition will remain closed, although visitors will have access to the bedroom where Churchill was born.