Culture in Crisis: Cultural Heritage Protection in a post-Covid Landscape

Between June and September 2020, The British Council, DCMS and the V&A partnered to produce a series of interactive workshops, hosted by our Culture in Crisis Programme, that explored the role cultural heritage protection has to play in 'building back better', as the world moves forward into development landscapes significantly transformed by Covid-19.

The five sessions within the series each convened panels to discuss various strategic areas within this topic, including sustainability, development and the role of digital technologies.

Throughout the series we invited our audience to join the discussion online and contribute questions, both beforehand and throughout the interactive sessions. The workshops developed organically and in response to these externally provided inputs, stimulating debate, forging new connections, generating creative approaches, and identifying recommendations for future activities.

Session 1: What role do you see cultural heritage protection playing in a post-Covid landscape?

The British Council, DCMS and V&A presented the opening session of the interactive workshop series.

Speakers

  • Stephen Stenning, Head, Arts and Society, British Council
  • Harriet Hoffler, Head of International Cultural Protection, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Vernon Rapley, Director of Heritage Protection and Security, V&A
  • Laura Jones, Cultural Heritage Preservation Lead, V&A (Host)

Session 2: Digital strategies

The focus of this session centred on the various opportunities, strengths and limitations for using digital approaches for cultural heritage protection post-Covid. Alongside facilitated audience participation, the event convened a panel of international speakers from across the digital sector to address areas such as virtual tourism, online training, the digital divide, digital dignity and other topics.

Speakers

  • Khaled Hijab, Digital Governance in International Development specialist and Founder of Tech Tribes
  • Nada Hosking, Executive Director, Global Heritage Fund
  • Abira Hussein, Curator of the Nomad Project
  • Chao Tayiana, Founder of African Digital Heritage and co-founder of the Museum of British Colonialism

Session 3: Sustainable strategies

The focus of this session centred on the various areas of sustainability and their possible application to cultural heritage protection post-Covid. Areas of discussion included sustainability in heritage funding, sustainable project management, environmental sustainability and the role of communities in sustainable projects.

Speakers

  • Alison Tickell, Founder and CEO, Julie's Bicycle
  • Dr. Thoa Bao Nguyen, Director, Vietnam Rural Industries Research and Development Institute (VIRI)
  • Nikki Locke, Senior Programme Manager, Cultural Heritage for Inclusive Growth, British Council
  • Prof. Richard Sandford, Professor of Heritage Evidence Foresight and Policy, UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage
  • Laura Jones, Cultural Heritage Preservation Lead, V&A (Host)

Session 4: Development strategies

The focus of this session centred on the wider value of cultural heritage and the potential to inform new approaches to international development and 'Aid'. Areas explored during the discussion included lessons learned from current cultural heritage protection in conflict-affected settings, the wider role of cultural heritage in promoting stable and secure societies and the contribution that can be made to supporting communities to 'build back better'.

Speakers

  • Asma Khalifa, activist, researcher and co-founder of the Khalifa Ihler Institute
  • Dr. Mariz Tadros, Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies
  • Rowaida Khulaidi, British Council Country Director (Yemen)
  • Nikki Locke, Senior Programme Manager, Cultural Heritage for Inclusive Growth, British Council (Host)

Session 5: What next?

The focus of this final session was to discuss the recommendations that had surfaced throughout the series and explore next steps, with the potential to inform new approaches to cultural heritage protection. The conversation addressed the lessons learned through post-Covid approaches to digital, sustainability and international development, and the contribution that can be made when heritage organisations work together to support communities to 'build back better'.

Speakers

  • Sarah Healey CB, Permanent Secretary of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Dr. Tristram Hunt, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Stevie Spring CBE, Chairman of the British Council
  • Laura Jones, Cultural Heritage Preservation Lead, V&A (Host)