Sunday, 1 February 2009

"living heritage" more support for traditional crafts

Things are changing around the world in the way that "heritage" is viewed.

I would like to share a few words from Linda Fabiani, Scottish Minister for Culture from her introduction to the new report "Intangible Cultural Heritage in Scotland, The way Forward"

"Our cultural heritage informs the identity of our nation. It's more than what we can see and touch in museums and galleries-it's also those intangible aspects which make us who and what we are today. The 2003 UNESCO Convention for safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) suggests all nations consider the distinctive character of their heritage as manifested within their respective borders.

To preserve the richness and diversity of Scotland's culture, an inventory is the first step. This report suggests the beginning of such a process in Scotland; it offers a clear way forward for the promotion and protection of our nation's cultural practices and living traditions. It also puts us in the vanguard of such work within Europe.

From Shetland's Up-Helly-Aa festivals in the north to the Common Ridings of the Borders in the south, from weaving of Harris Tweed in the Western Isles to the silver bands of the Lothians' pit villages in the east, Scotland posseses a wealth of living traditions. These traditions are being constantly augmented and adapted by exposure to the cultural practices of new groups who settle here.

Scotland's cultural heritage is an important part of what makes it such a fantastic place to live, work, and do business. Maintaining the intangible cultural heritage will help to keep Scotland in this enviable position."

The report which discusses how they will survey and protect their heritage can be downloaded here;

At present in England we still regard heritage as being buildings and things in museums. When trying to establish what is happening within government in England I was told "from what I can gather, the lack of immediate pressure from the public and the Heritage sector for Government to undertake work in this area means that amidst the competing priorities, the initial work in this area seems to have run out of steam and has been put on hold for the moment"

I am happy for the government to ratify the UNESCO Convention or to follow Scotlands example but I would like to see some action. Several of the crafts that I care passionatley about will be gone in 5 years if nothing is done now. Many of us have now written to our MPs asking what the governments position on Intangible Cultural Heritage and particularly traditional crafts is.

I look forward to hearing Andrew Burnham secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport following Linbda Fabiani's lead.

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