At the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) we never forget that our entire budget comes from the National Lottery playing public. People of all ages, from all walks of life, are the ones that enable us to support heritage projects right across the UK. And it’s essential that they feel they’re directly benefiting from that investment.
Our primary aim is to give everyone a stake in their heritage. We are in the privileged position of having the ability to make sure this happens, ensuring the projects we fund help to break down the barriers to those excluded from participating in heritage and reach people who have not yet had the chance to experience it.
We know that budgets are tight in the heritage sector, and that’s where we come in. Today I am announcing plans to bring together and extend a package of measures to help organisations build resilience.
So how are we going to do this?
Next year, we will be creating a streamlined package of grants to help new organisations get off the ground, build the capacity of existing organisations and help make the necessary structural changes organisations need to meet future challenges. Our current Transition funding, Start Up grants and Catalyst small grants programmes will be combined, with an increased upper limit of more than £100,000 and a lengthened time frame to do the work. And to support resilience there will be a new opportunity to apply for funding to build endowments through the Catalyst programme, with enough flexibility to support small and large organisations.
At the same time, to continue to address skills shortages and needs, we will be running a third round of the popular Skills for the Future programme next year. Our past investment of £47m has created thousands of paid, practical training opportunities which have brought new people into the workforce – people like Halima Khanom. She “didn’t quite know how to get into” the museum sector when she saw the Skills for the Future training opportunity advertised, focusing on community engagement skills. The rich experience she gained on a placement at the Royal Geographic Society led to her current job with the Imperial War Museum, running an exciting new film project.
I want to see more projects like this, from organisations that are serious about diversifying the heritage workforce and effective at attracting people from a range of backgrounds. Until now, we have seen very few Skills for the Future applications focusing on digital skills. This must change: it’s time to harness the creativity and ideas of digital natives!
I also want us to do more for young people, teens and those under 25. In my short time at HLF I have been impressed with the range of projects that we’ve funded through our Young Roots programme, including the wonderful Getaway Girls’ project which looked at the similarities and differences in teenage fashion from the 1940s to the present day. We want more young people involved in shaping our heritage stories for the future, so we will be launching a new initiative offering a number of substantial grants for proposals that seek to make a real difference for young people and put them at the heart of projects that innovate and do things differently. If this delivers what we hope it will, we’ll consider expanding the programme in the future.
Finally, for the first time in our history, we will recruit young people to help us at HLF make decisions on applications. And we will help more young people to become advocates and champions for heritage work.
It’s early days and these plans are still embryonic. Once we have worked out the finer details we hope to put these proposals into action during the next financial year and we will give good notice of exact timings. I hope, though, by announcing them today you can all begin to plan, at least in broad terms, for any applications you may wish to make.