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Why heritage is a hot topic

PUBLISHED: 20:20 01 February 2008 | UPDATED: 19:37 05 July 2010

THE heritage of Waveney and the various changes it is continuing to undergo and the way people react is put into focus this week by ANDREW KITCHEN, the district council's services manager for arts and heritage.

THE heritage of Waveney and the various changes it is continuing to undergo and the way people react is put into focus this week by ANDREW KITCHEN, the district council's services manager for arts and heritage.

CHANGE is normal and natural - weather, seasons, ageing, landscapes, structures.

And change obviously is "human-made" - increased knowledge and decreased ignorance causes change; fashions, goods, materials, housing, technology, partners, friends, climate - all change.

Some people loathe change (they say) - others love it.

I fall into the latter group: I have a sign above my desk: "If you always do what you've always done, the future will look like the past." - and the past can always be improved upon! And "change for change sake" is a much maligned process - it's often a thin line between continuity and stagnation.

Our history and heritage demonstrates our evolution over millennia - our ever-changing ways of living. That's what is so fascinating: change provides the drama throughout history.

The heritage industry is all about identifying and revealing change - it demonstrates progress (and otherwise), lessons learned (or not), opportunities seized (or sadly missed), improvements achieved, mistakes made … all weaving an enormous tapestry of time and events, providing the context of our lives today and hopes for the future.

And "context is all" - relating to, appreciating and understanding our heritage explains so much of who we are and where, how and why we live.

The popularity of period dramas, stately homes, antiques and period designs, house-history research, family tree investigations - and TV series - and more, shows people are keen to relate, appreciate and understand. History and heritage is actually quite "cool" - to use a term with heritage.

What makes something part of our heritage is not whether it is a building, landscape or artefact but the (non-financial) value we place on it. Heritage is anything that is passed down from preceding generations - not just great houses and multiple monarchs.

Today's buzz phrases include "living heritage" (including crafts, skills, traditions); creative heritage; built heritage, environmental heritage; industrial heritage; agricultural, maritime; collections heritage (museums) and much more. And the latest label is "intangible heritage" including language, memory and instincts - for example, that "warm glow" people get when they see the classic sun drenched village green complete with church, pub and cricket team.

Waveney arguably has more human heritage than any other part of the British Isles.

Archaeological finds in Pakefield revealed signs of habitation more than 200,000 years older than previously known in Britain - long before the Pakefield area was coastal yet alone created. So our heritage can be dated back an astonishing 600,000 years. That's a lot of time for heritage enthusiasts to explore.

And there is a very passionate core of heritage activists of all ages in Waveney - and that's not just the volunteers in the 16 museums in the district (and they all need more help too).

There are many more specialists and intrigued individuals with causes and concerns. But now there is also a need for more people to get involved and everyone to collaborate.

Last autumn numerous representatives met and were keen to create a heritage forum of some nature. However, many of these people are totally committed to specific projects.

To get an effective, independent "heritage force" off the ground will take yet more people and suitable energies to co-ordinate and develop collaboration, action and impact.

A heritage "collective" or "forum" would be a way of improving our local environment - and what is more important?

I am not suggesting that heritage is about preserving everything in aspic - creating today's heritage for tomorrow is fundamental. The past always needs to be respected so we understand our world today and we can identify and understand change - helping people to enjoy it rather than loathe change.

I'm keen to hear from everyone equally enthusiastic to get active (and if we're all such "busy people" how come watching various screens has never been so popular?).

Memories cannot change the past but they can help shape the future.

>>>>>>>>>>>.

IDEAS AND OPPORTUNITIES

All registered charities, large and small, must have charitable purposes or "aims" that are for the public benefit, from April 1. This is known as the "public benefit requirement". Similarly from the same date, all organisations seeking to be recognised as charities must demonstrate, explicitly, that their aims are for the public benefit. Check out these new essential needs at www.charity-commission.gov.uk/publicbenefit and follow links.

Is your organisation a member of VAN - Voluntary Arts Network? This is the most influential and useful support and pressure group in the UK for the voluntary arts sector (and useful too for heritage concerns). "We recognise that the arts are a key part of our culture and as such they are absolutely vital to our health, social and economic development." First port of call with any queries:www.voluntaryarts.org

A new website aimed at anyone involved in amateur dramatics has been launched to provide a one-stop-shop of information and advice, including acting tips, the law relating to children on stage and the different roles that a group needs in order to be effective. Go to www.amateurdramatics.co.uk

Comic Relief operates a number of grant schemes through its Red Nose Days funding programme and has announced that the next application deadline for grants over £5,000 is February 29. Go to www.comicrelief.com/apply-for-a-grant/uk

The fairly new Joanies Trust welcome applications from organisations working with young people aged 11 to 25. The Trust wish to support projects that offer intensive support as well as those that promote preventative work and diversionary activities, including the use of art forms for their therapeutic value. Go to www.joaniestrust.org.uk

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