Prioritisation within built heritage – call for ideas

BEFS invites those open to exploring strategies for the prioritisation within built heritage to submit their ideas.

People want built heritage in all its forms, to: receive the care, protection and examination needed; for heritage to be able to facilitate the greatest benefits; and for those benefits to be widely accessible and understood. But what are those benefits – academic, social, economic, cultural? And in a period of continued constraint in public funding can we have it all, for everything? A forthcoming report on the state of heritage funding arising from Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage project will likely reveal the limits.

Is funding best awarded to ‘whomever shouts loudest’ or to the most adept at completing funding application forms? Is this status quo of funding preferred or are there better ways to prioritise the allocation of resources? We know there are a range of barriers and challenges to achieving the above, from environmental conditions to unmanaged tourism interest – but how do we categorise those problems; are they severe, urgent, incremental?

BEFS invites those open to exploring strategies for the prioritisation of built heritage to put forward methodologies for robust and open discussion.

Whilst BEFS are keen to explore all ideas, key determinants being considered may include:

  • Asset Significance
  • Location
  • Community Interest
  • Long term sustainability
  • Scope for collaboration
  • Asset’s current use and future potential use
  • Typology

These methodologies will be debated, explored and questioned in a workshop for contributors in December 2018. Sustainable ideas demonstrating approaches which excite further exploration will then be supported for further development and wider discussion at a public event in February 2019.

Please submit your ideas in no more than 500 words, to by Monday 5th November 2018.

The background for this event is the perpetual discussion around the absence of a strategic approach to the funding of built heritage and that much good work could be seen as only ‘tinkering round the edges’. We are rapidly approaching a cliff edge due to heightened ecological risks, reducing public funds, stretched human resources, and a continually ageing building stock. Increased community ownership is being seen as one solution but without access to funding communities may well find themselves in the same position as public and private owners of heritage assets.

The desired outcome is a developed Prioritisation Methodology to help funders and heritage asset managers determine where their resources should be best applied. The Scottish Government has tasked Historic Environment Scotland with delivering a Built Heritage Investment Plan and methodologies for prioritisation will form part of that plan. This is an opportunity to engage with that agenda.

Responding to an individual crisis, which then gets resourced due to high profile attention, could seem satisfactory – but these approaches may not be delivering the best long-term solutions for the greatest breadth and depth of our heritage.