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Cultural Heritage

The framework of the UK’s heritage is changing. 


English Heritage split into Historic England and English Heritage in April and Historic Scotland will merge with the Royal Commission of Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland in October. A key agenda underlying each of these organisational changes is “mainstreaming heritage.”


What do the historic environment strategies say?

The Ministerial Foreword of Our Place in Time: The Historic Environment Strategy for Scotland is clear, “It does not belong to government or any particular sector – it is for everyone and we can all play a part in helping to ensure it delivers positive outcomes for our historic environment.” This approach ties in with one of its main priorities and related objectives:


  • To mainstream the historic so that it lies at the heart of a modern, dynamic Scotland.

  • To ensure that the historic environment is embedded in policy and delivery areas such as carbon reduction, education priorities, and placemaking.


Its equivalent in England, Heritage 2020: Strategic Priorities for England’s Historic Environment 2015–2020, was produced by the Historic Environment Forum. Notably, it states that “these efforts need to be part of the mainstream: not an add-on.” Specific aims include:


  • The benefits people experience from engaging with the historic environment are understood, resourced and delivered in a wider strategic context.

  • To grow the economic contribution of the historic environment, the creative economy and tourism, a skilled heritage workforce is needed.


How will success be measured?

The success of Heritage 2020 will be measured as part of Heritage Counts. It includes outcome-focused indicators around participation, economic benefits, education and learning, happiness/well-being and environmental sustainability. The Built Environment Forum Scotland will be measuring the success of Our Place in Time. The KPI for the mainstreaming priority is currently output-focused. An objective of evaluation framework development is to demonstrate impact.


Future challenges

Fully mainstreaming heritage outside the sector, so that it is not seen as a special interest area or an ‘add-on,’ is a real challenge. The commitment to do so is there in terms of policy. Aligning outcomes with non-heritage organisations and engaging with them on these terms could be a key step towards mainstreaming. BOP has helped many heritage and culture organisations demonstrate their relevance to non-heritage organisations, stakeholders and potential funders. We feel that there is a real opportunity for collective engagement with non-heritage organisations to achieve a step change and embed heritage in the mainstream more effectively.

Mainstreaming Heritage

The framework managing the UK’s heritage is changing, says BOP's Principal Consultant Sabina Strachan.

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Jonathan Todd

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Jonathan is an economist with over a decade’s experience in impact assessment and evaluation, and high-level policy experience, particularly within the cultural and creative sectors.

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Jonathan Todd

Jonathan Todd

Chief Economist