‘Innovation, almost by definition, requires us to look forward,’ wrote our Innovation Practitioner, Kathryn Holland, in a recent blog. ‘But sometimes it’s also helpful to look back with fresh eyes.’
The three-stage Heritage Innovation Fund pilot programme seeks to do both, supporting future-focused grant recipients to build on the lessons of the past as they work to develop solutions to common problems facing the heritage sector.
Back in January, this Fund awarded grants to 34 pioneering local projects across the UK organisations in its first phase, explore. Of those, 17 are now progressing to the second phase, test. The third phase, grow, is planned for late 2024.
Test and learn
With support from The Young Foundation and funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, phase two supports 17 organisations to test ways to make the heritage sector more sustainable, inclusive, and fit for the future – scrutinising everything from recruitment and retention of volunteers in the sector, to heritage skills shortages, improvements to digital products, and more. Each organisation has been awarded between £50,000 and £75,000 to fund a nine- to 12-months testing process.
Through this period, the organisations will work together, with The Young Foundation providing structured learning to test ideas, alongside masterclasses and peer learning groups. At the same time, cohort members will start to put their workforce solutions into practice within their own organisation.
Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:
“I’m delighted to see these 17 projects progress to the next stage. The cohort approach has already led to some impressive development of skills, confidence and capabilities – I’m excited for what they come up with next.”
Helen Goulden, CEO at The Young Foundation, said:
“Creating the space for grantees to explore their ideas to tackle big sector challenges and innovating long-term, sustainable solutions to issues facing the heritage workforce, has been genuinely inspiring. The whole team at The Young Foundation is looking forward to continuing that work, and excited to be continuing with them on this journey.”