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Engaging youth in cultural heritage: time, place and communication

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posted on 2023-06-09, 00:09 authored by Rebecca Madgin, David Webb, Pollyanna RuizPollyanna Ruiz, Tim Snelson
Debates about heritage have posed questions about what is of value and who can ascribe value. These debates often centre on the types of places that are afforded official heritage value as well as the kinds of ‘experts’ who are sufficiently trained and educated to be able to ascribe this official value. At the root of all of these debates is a desire to try and understand why something is so valuable that it should be retained for future generations. Contained within this is a belief summed up by the National Trust that heritage is “forever” and by English Heritage that it belongs to “everyone”. These totalising statements provide the impression that access to heritage is equal and in the name of the greater good of future generations. However, certain groups remain disadvantaged within this system. Young people are one of these groups as they “remain largely anonymous from heritage conservation policy and practice” (Azevedo, 2012: 3). Similarly, the role of heritage within the youth sector more generally is also undervalued as “(youth) organisations were found to not immediately connect heritage to youth work, with heritage viewed as an abstract construct” (CPI, 2015: 37). However, research carried out on the “world’s oldest surviving skateboard spot” as well as documentary analysis of the Young Roots programme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund has illustrated that engaging young people with heritage can have wider benefits for both the heritage and built environment sectors. This report will examine some of the ways in which young people both form and powerfully express their value of historic places. In doing so it is intended that the views of young people can inform the ongoing evolution of the heritage sector in the UK. To achieve this the report will focus on how the relationship between young people and heritage develops and in particular the role of place and time within this. In doing so it is intended that the abstract nature of heritage will be broken down with the aim that the findings can provide “youth workers and professionals the right tools to engage young people with heritage and encourage them to think about heritage projects” (CPI, 2015: 37).


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Youth and Heritage



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