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Rising to the challenge – creating a stronger and more resilient heritage economy

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Dame Jenny Abramsky

Guest Blogger, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund

As the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) launches its new funding framework, Chair Dame Jenny Abramsky looks at how the organisation aims to make a lasting difference for heritage and people in the years ahead.

Today I’ve been at the British Museum with Heritage Minister John Penrose to launch the HLF’s new framework which will inform our funding between 2013 and 2018.
Setting out our plans has made me reflect on the continuing challenges the heritage sector is facing. We know that it needs to respond creatively in order to thrive and we have already introduced a number of measures to help such as reducing matched funding. We’re also committed to supporting the heritage sector with its ongoing development to ensure it delivers all we know it can for society.
Back in 2008 when our last strategic plan was launched, we expected to give out less Lottery money than before. This time round it’s a different story thanks to the changes the Government has made in restoring our 20 per cent ‘good causes’ share and the outstanding performance of the National Lottery. HLF now has £375 million to distribute each year which is particularly welcome at a time when the pressure on public finances is intense.
Some of the areas funded by HLF including buildings, parks and heritage skillsI’ve always been determined that HLF should be a listening, responsive organisation. This strategic framework, a response to last year’s extensive consultation, ensures that Lottery money will work hard to make a lasting difference for heritage and people. And we never forget that it’s Lottery players who generate our funding in the first place.
Some things will stay reassuringly constant: HLF will continue to support the full breadth of heritage across the UK with our teams providing both advice and support. Our existing funding programmes for parks, landscapes, townscapes, places of worship and young people are highly valued and will stay the same or be enhanced. We have also extended local accountability and decision-making across the length and breadth of the UK.

Key changes

There are some key shifts and changes, including additional support for heritage at risk, requiring carbon footprinting as part of the application process for all major projects over £2 million, encouraging the sector to use digital technology and introducing a new targeted regeneration programme called Heritage Enterprise. All are designed to ensure we facilitate great projects and that they have the support they need to develop and face the future with confidence.
Finally, I’d like to touch on one area of change that I’m confident will be well received. We’re determined to go on making things easier, encouraging more people to get involved with heritage. We’ve been told that in some areas, our processes could be lighter and less onerous. And – especially where the amounts involved are smaller – we agree. So we are making things easier, with a new small grants scheme for grants of £3,000 – £10,000, and also extending our simpler approach to grants up to £100,000.
Today I promised that HLF would bring people together, share the experience of almost 20 years of Lottery funding and contribute a stronger voice for the sector. People have told us that they want us to do this, and whether it’s through a summit to look at the future of parks later this year with the Big Lottery Fund, the creation of online communities to share innovation and best practice, or our planned major symposium in 2013 to look at issues and solutions, we are committed to doing it.
I firmly believe that HLF can help the sector not just survive, but thrive. We will use our unique role and remit across the UK and its heritage to collaborate in our response flexibly to the changing environment together.

More information about the strategic framework is available on the HLF website
Images, clockwise from top left:
Conisbrough Castle by Tom Green on Flickr. Some rights reserved.
Christ Church in Fulmodeston by Broken Taco on Flickr. Some rights reserved.
Rouken Glen Park by Ruminatrix on Flickr. Some rights reserved.
Stonemasonry by CSLP on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

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