Workshop: ‘What makes heritage decision-making difficult’, MadLab (Manchester, UK), 15th October

Linked to ‘How should decisions about heritage be made project?’<>

What makes heritage decision-making difficult?

Workshop, Manchester, MadLab
15th October 2013, 11-4pm

• How are decisions about heritage made where you live or work?
• What are the tensions or difficulties that come up in heritage decision-making?
• What are your experiences of ‘participation’ in museum and heritage contexts?
• What might make heritage decision-making more democratic?

We’re a group of people who care about heritage, coming from different perspectives and with different roles – from grassroots organisers to planners, funders and researchers. We were funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to work together between February and May this year to co-design a research project that would get to the crux of something we were all finding difficult – how decisions about heritage get made.

After four months months of head scratching, we think we’ve come up with a useful framework for enquiry into this topic<> and have secured further funding for a 12 month action research project.

As we kick this second phase of the research off, we’re really keen to test our thinking with others working in this area and to start by trying to make sense of the ‘blocks’ or ‘sticking points’ in decision making about heritage. We’re running a workshop in Manchester on 15th October and would love people to join us to develop our thinking.

When we were working together to design the research project, we noticed that difficulties and tensions in decision making often come up around:

• questions of expertise and quality;
• definitions of what counts as ‘heritage’;
• the responsibility of stewardship;
• the desire to work ‘on behalf of’ everyone, the public or the future.

In the workshop we will all work together through a few different activities in order to push further our framing and conceptualising of these issues. We will:

1) Map and visualize decision-making in all of our projects, organisations and places.
2) Work on real life examples where these ‘blocks’ or ‘sticking points’ emerge (and we’ll ask all participants to suggest examples).
3) Delineate further the some nubs or cruxes of these ‘blocks’ or ‘sticking points’ which the action research will seek to investigate and address.
4) Identify some success criteria for the research – how will we know when we’ve made progress?

We have a very small budget for travel but can cover local travel expenses or make a small contribution towards those travelling from further afield.
To express your interest, just email us by 30th September with your answers (no more than 500 words in total) to two questions:

1) Can you give an example of a heritage decision you’ve been involved in?

2) Why are you interested in thinking about decision making?

Reply to: Helen Graham,<>
Looking forward to hearing from you,
‘How should decisions about heritage be made?’ Research Team

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