Museums, Society, Inequality

By Richard Sandell | Go to book overview

15

Rethinking heritage: cultural policy and inclusion

Lola Young

This chapter will raise a number of issues related to policy and the heritage sector 1 in what has come to be termed ‘culturally diverse’ Britain. 2 In many respects we have only just begun to think and speak about the meanings attached to Britain’s sense of national and cultural identity in the twenty-first century, but although what Stuart Hall has termed ‘the multicultural question’ is the underpinning of these early thoughts on policy-making within the heritage sector, my discussion has wider parameters than that might suggest. 3 I want to indicate - in a necessarily schematic manner - the potential of making critical interventions in the sector through the deployment of theories and practices, and policy initiatives, in combination and separately. I am acutely aware that policy can never achieve all the objectives that we might desire, but I believe that it is essential for academics who have contributed to debates on culture, identity and representation in the sphere of the arts - especially black intellectuals and critics - to engage more deeply with cultural policy, interrogating, analysing, dismantling and reconstructing the policies, and the processes and practices of policy-making. There are a number of grounds for arguing that it is important to engage with policy in relation to the significant, rapidly developing sector both within and on the margins of the mainstream/ conventional heritage domain, and I will refer to these reasons in a later section.

I will be discussing policy in general terms whilst acknowledging the problems in doing so. The difficulty is due, at least in part, to the fact that levels of policy-making are abundant, and definitions are slippery: how is it possible to get to grips with and differentiate between all the guidelines, strategy papers, planning papers, policy statements, directives, implicit unwritten policies, explicit but coded policies, as well as the ‘gaps between the lines’ of policy statements? Then there are the effects of the combination of and tensions between policies such as those developed by local authorities, regional regeneration schemes, and heritage funders. Small wonder that many people - clients and staff alike - in the cultural and arts sector find it difficult to think about what making and implementing policy actually means.

Implicit in this essay is the argument that the major institutions and strategic bodies of the heritage sector have reached a point where changes are necessary,

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