Following a welcome from the mayor of Derry, the Chair Andrew Haley explained the role of MAG, while Nicola Waddington explained how the seminar builds on the group’s recently published Heritage Paper and the focus of future work for the Ministerial Advisory Group.
Speakers included Paul Mullan from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and Helen Quigley from the Inner City Trust.
Paul set out the importance of finding greater meaning in the Built and Historic Environment:
‘Now more than ever we need to look at buildings and the historic environment in a different way. In today’s environment, where funding is ever more difficult to find, the argument for looking after our heritage is very challenging. The built environment is having to compete for funding against healthcare, education and housing. To help it compete effectively we need to come up with new ways of looking at buildings to show that their heritage is central to how we look at and understand ourselves.
Buildings and historic spaces are all about people: those who inhabited those spaces in the past and those that use them today. These spaces contain the memory of the past and meaning for today, if we can only just unlock that meaning. We need to be able to look at our buildings and spaces and identify the many narratives that provide meaning. We need to challenge the obvious narratives of power and reveal the hidden stories of place. Stories that can connect far more people to our built and historic environment than ever before’.
Helen Quigley then talked about several Inner City Trust projects, explaining the positive outcomes of their restoration, their social value and the economic benefit they have released to their communities. A copy of Helen’s talk is available.
The next steps for the Ministerial Advisory Group will build on work to date, encouraging a holistic approach that will result in better places. MAG will facilitate direct engagement with councils and government departments to ensure heritage is protected in new planning policy and LDP’s; strengthening links between departments and councils and interdisciplinary discourse between heritage and other sectors such as regeneration, transport and housing.
MAG will advocate more funding for initiatives and encourage adaptive reuse of older buildings to deliver not just conserved buildings, but ‘living buildings,’ that will contribute to regeneration in their local areas.
For more information and further advice, the following contacts may be helpful: