On Thursday 27th June, BSWN was delighted to launch our upcoming project focusing on Intangible Cultural heritage in the South West of England. Following the successful delivery of four projects funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF), BSWN is once again looking to engage the Heritage and Arts sector through our Cultural Inclusion work.
The project focuses on ‘intangible cultural heritage’ – these are aspects of culture that can’t be touched or displayed in a case in a museum such as cultural practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, or skills that are captured in audio, video and digital ways. To find out more about the project, please see our project page here.
The event was hosted at the M Shed and well attended by a key audience of 30 attendees across the heritage sector institutions and the region. Opening the event with a key note speech was Deputy Mayor Asher Craig who acknowledged that “In this city, the only history we ever talk about is Slave Trade, Bristol Boycott or the Carnival and we, the Local Council, want to change that and acknowledge the other heritage shared by the local communities.”
Independent researcher and curator of Nomad: A Somali Digital Archive, Abira Hussein, concurred and highlighted that “the work of decolonisation takes place in our everyday. References to our cultural heritage for a long time has been associated only with colonialism. We aim to look beyond that, pre-colonialism and contemporary.”
Kelly Spry-Phare, Senior Engagement Manager for NLHF, was able to join us at the event and share the view on the importance on making heritage sustainable by highlighting that “The Heritage Fund believes that everyone has a stake in heritage, and everyone should have equal access to heritage. Heritage that is more inclusive will be more sustainable.”
BSWN was delighted to also introduce our new BAME Cultural Heritage Manager, Jennifer Sharratt, who will be working closely with heritage sector organisations and institutions in the region as part of this project over the next year.
Chaired by Rob Mitchell, Multi-Media Producer at Firstborn Studios CIC, Abira and Kelly were joined for a panel discussion about ‘Decolonising the Heritage in Art Sector’ by poet and historian Dr. Edson Burton, Senior Curator at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery Sue Giles and our Director Sado Jirde. The key points from the panel discussion comprised:
Decolonisation is a stage and we need to look at what the end outcome should look like
Decolonisation isn’t so much about the history but how cultural and heritage sector institutions are now, and the attitudes surrounding the collections
Immersive technology liberates the object in museums and archives from a subjective white-centric gaze and these old institutions - in fact brings the context back free from its colonial ties
The role of technology in all decolonisation is integral.
Community voices are an integral part of new storytelling and access to traditional archives - community engagement is essential and in need of being facilitated
To conclude the event, all guests were invited to take part in our ongoing research into the Inclusion within the Heritage and Culture sector. The main aim of the research is to gain a clear regional picture of the steps that organisations are taking towards inclusivity, with particular reference to the African, African Caribbean and South East Asian communities. We are keen to find ways that we can support cultural heritage institutions and organisations in best achieving their goals towards inclusion and diversity. If you would like to take part, please see the survey here.