(Multi)Cultural Heritage: New Perspectives on Public Culture, Identity and Citizenship

Lead Research Organisation: Northumbria University
Department Name: Fac of Arts, Design and Social Sciences


The project seeks to understand the ways that immigrant and ethnic communities engage with their heritage through public cultural expressions organised OUTSIDE of mainstream institutions - including creative or exhibitionary or museum activities. The project draws attention to how and why organisations express cultural heritage, with heritage not always understood as buildings and objects, but as traditions, characteristics and ways of thinking drawn from the past. The study will examine the structures and processes of (multi)cultural organisations, their stakeholders and audiences, and their motivations. It will also ask how their heritage activities might express new ideas about belonging and citizenship, and how they might participate more extensively in heritage and cultural policy-making.
The project integrates research and leadership components, focusing efforts on field research at seven case study sites, and four leadership workshops. A key aspect will be to engage and mobilise a multicultural team of academics, practitioners and cultural professionals as co-researchers as well as workshop participants.
The RESEARCH will document, analyse and compare, in dialogue with case study partners, the organisational environments and practices that constitute public heritage expressions among multicultural organisations. Analysis will seek to understand how the negotiation and adaptation of heritage represents a potential source of tension, as well as solidarity, within both communities and wider society. The study will focus on groups in Manchester and Newcastle, with diverse size, ethnicity and policy experiences. Case studies include the Manchester Jewish Museum; Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art; Vamos; Sangini; the Angelou Centre, the Iranian group Women Together for Community, and the virtual site Everyday Muslim.
Case sites will be investigated using documents, observation, interviews and participatory methods with stakeholders, practitioners and audiences. An Advisory Board of academic, case site and institutional actors will guide the project. The diverse sites will be drawn together in a series of four one-day workshops to discuss the methodology, data collected, shared issues and impacts, and implications for policy making and action. The intent is to embed knowledge exchange, networking and dissemination activities within the research process, thereby ensuring that participants will learn methods, interact and share research, and explore future collaborations beyond the project.
The LEADERSHIP activities will stimulate new connections, networks, tools and practices among practitioners and cultural professionals, as well as enhance the leadership skills of the PI as a leading academic in this topic. Four workshops will bring case site participants together, with resource people as needed, to debate their thoughts on the research and its potential policy consequences. The PI must be a sensitive facilitator and negotiator with minority participants, both in the context of the research and related engagement activities. Further, the project seeks to enhance the leadership capabilities of multicultural practitioners themselves to build a lasting legacy. The PI will also establish a new Multicultural Identity & Heritage Research Group at Northumbria.
Dissemination will include academic, policy, and public outputs. The main academic output will be an edited book on (Multi)Cultural Heritage. As well, global/national/local conference panels will be organised (Assoc. of Critical Heritage Studies, MeCCSA, AIM), and peer-reviewed articles submitted to 'Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society' and 'Cultural Trends'. A policy strategy document will be prepared for ACE, DCMS, EH and National Trust. Public engagements will be a portable exhibition; a multi-component website hosted beyond the project;and an annual symposium event at Northumbria co-produced with the multicultural partners.

Planned Impact

The core aims of this project are to conduct original research into multicultural heritage-making, and to develop the PI's leadership role in creating connections with and among multicultural heritage organisations in the North of England. Reflecting the project's novel approach, the project will impact three main non-academic beneficiaries: immigrant and ethnic organisations and practitioners; experts and policy-makers from governmental and non-governmental agencies; and the general public concerned about understanding, protecting and expressing heritage in its many forms.

Participating multicultural organisations will be directly impacted through the co-production and dialogue that is central to the research, with case study data collection and workshops galvanising participants to question and shape analysis and knowledge-production. Understanding their own knowledge-making as an integral part of the history, society and culture in the UK today will reinforce their capacity to assert legitimacy in the shared public sphere, and contribute to longer-term empowerment through public policy-making. Part of the impact of workshop sessions will be to enable participants to enhance connections and collaborations across their diverse groups, but also to change attitudes and narratives within the mainstream cultural and heritage sectors, for example by connecting them to larger national and international networks and associations.

The project will have a direct impact on heritage and cultural policy-makers through the fourth workshop on policy and its policy strategy document co-produced with project partners. The strategy document will identify drawbacks or opportunities in existing heritage and cultural policy-making, and a series of specific ideas or pathways about facilitating interactions between ethnic or immigrant communities and policy stakeholders. In addition, findings of the qualitative Case Study research will also be disseminated to policy-makers through AHRC's Highlight Notice and through academic articles in cultural policy journals like Cultural Trends.

The final target of impact is the general public in the UK. The research of this network has as its ultimate goal raising all people's awareness, understanding and appreciation of the diverse nature of the narratives and participants that make up the UK's past and its heritage. The project as a whole, through its academic and practitioner impacts, will benefit the public in the long term, but also directly through specific leadership activities. These include the project website made available to the general public, an annual symposium/event and a portable exhibition, each managed long term by Northumbria through its Cultural and Creative Industries MA programme.

As a final step, the project participants will co-design in the latter stages of the project a coherent 'next steps' document to guide any desired long-term project outcomes and interactions with academia, practitioners, policy-makers and the general public.


10 25 50
Description The most significant achievement of the (Multi)Cultural Heritage project was the impact it had on small BAME organisations and cultural practitioners that sit outside of mainstream heritage institutions. These impacts are outlined in the Narrative Impact section.

In terms of the first objective of "expanding knowledge about the people and organisations involved in public multicultural and heritage work", the research drew together black and minority cultural organisations for intercultural exchange about their organisations and their engagements with 'heritage'. They detailed many shared problems such as accessing resources, leadership, volunteer burnout, and building capacity. Heritage was discussed as intangible but foundational to their arts and community development work, key to identity and belonging. Concrete ideas and methods to re-engage, enlarge, and promote ideas about heritage within their community organisations and to the public emerged - for example holding follow-up community seminars and in the case of Sangini, changing their constitution to include Heritage. The PI has a published chapter and another peer-review article in process. An edited book "Whose Heritage? Critical Challenges" including chapters by some of the partner practitioners, is under review by Routledge.

The objectives of "contributing to social justice considerations" and "considering policy implications" were both central throughout the project's progression. Both were met and furthered through subsequent planned projects and meetings beyond the fellowship schedule. Affecting inequalities within institutional structures and practices was found to be a central concern of all BAME practitioners, who sought input into policy development and decision-making. As on participant noted, Until those faces of the trustees, board members and other stakeholders become more diverse and until those views become more diverse, there is a glass ceiling for us. The project brought BAME partners and public policy managers face to face in intense exchanges (HLF, Historic England, National Trust, ACE, TWAM). This research found that specific strategies were required to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Equality Act within mainstream cultural and heritage institutions. All participants contributed useful follow-up briefs, and will return in April 2020, beyond this project, to present a report of progress.
Exploitation Route The findings are already being taken forward in the form of a follow-on "Organisational Archives" proposal for the partners, a new Heritage Inequalities policy study, various activities within the partner organisations, as well as the academic outputs indicated above. There is good potential to widen this research to other areas of the UK in partnership with other universities.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/research/research-areas/art-and-design/multi-cultural-heritage/
Description During the two-year process, the leadership fellowship has been intensely collaborative with seven minority cultural organisations. Community and cultural-sector impacts that have begun to arise from the award emerged from the workshops attended by these project partners. The impacts stem from a stated desire from partners to 'keep the conversations going' and to co-create 'spaces of conversation' among diverse multicultural organisations. A desire was articulated in Workshop 3 on 'Impacts' was to find a way to create an umbrella BAME heritage group in the North East. Thus the research evolved from a study of disparate minority-led organisations involved in arts, culture or heritage, driven by the PI, into a group effort by the partners as they came together in conversational spaces to discuss heritage, their cultural work, impacts and policy. The devolution of project control towards the increasing leadership by participants, which gave participants ownership and empowerment, is considered the chief impact that furthered the research goals. These organisations have begun to engage with each other and with other funding bodies to build related projects. To date, these include: - Eclipse Theatre partnered with Northumbria U for an AHRC Creative Economy Engagement Fellowship in December 2018 which was to do a feasibility study of the 'umbrella BAME heritage group' idea - Emerging from the final symposium of the original Fellowship, partner Vamos Festival has been cooperating with partners Angelou Centre and NEEACA to lead an HLF/NLHF project "Commonality" in 2019 and again in summer 2020 including oral histories, an exhibition, festival and activities. - Partners Vamos, Sangini and NEEACA committed to an AHRC Follow-On bid with Northumbria U on a community archives project (decision pending) - NLHF, Historic England, Tyne & Wear Museums and Hadrians Wall Partnership are supporting a new funding bid for an Equality Act/ Heritage Inequalities project for 2020-2021
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Creative Economy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description (Multi)Cultural Heritage Policy Workshop, and, Whose Heritage? Symposium
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Two sessions under this Heritage fellowship had a direct impact on stimulating understanding, debate, and intercultural exchange among practitioners in multicultural organisations in the North East of England, improving their organisational structures, and drawing postgraduate and PhD students into this process. A workshop on policy in April 2019, in a public academic forum, aimed for direct exchanges between representatives of 5 culture/heritage agencies (HLF, ACE, Historic England, National Trust and Newcastle Council) and the partners in my research about inequalities in cultural policies. All agencies and organisations were asked to report on any activities resulting from this. For example, the Northwest region of the National Lottery Heritage Fund reported a subsequent staff workshop on "Whose Heritage?" to inspect their own practices. In another example, the Asian charity Sangini reported a change to their constitution, adding 'heritage' to what the organisation values. A Board chair said, "I think the research played an important role in helping us to reconnect with our sense of what Sangini's about and why we do the way we do it." The national symposium, Whose Heritage? in May 2019 aimed to challenge attitudes about heritage; to incorporate ideas of 'difference' and 'change' into how we think about the past, and to affect how future heritage and culture policy-making might be influenced by ethnic minorities. A director at the Angelou Centre said, "what was really, really apparent at the Whose Heritage event was the way it galvanised black minoritised cultural art projects and people that were involved to come together and make, you know, for affirmation to increase networks, awareness, understanding, and also to affect that movement of political change around the issues." This galvanisation was evidenced in new and expanded activities among the BAME practitioners, including new meetings and responsibilities by partners during the research project; cross-joining between ethnic organisations; bidding by partners outside the project, and planning for follow-up minority-led research projects. Two new and tangible outcomes that emerged is the desire of members of the partnership to create a Multicultural Archives [new funding submitted to AHRC for 2020 work], and a possible BAME Heritage Forum as an umbrella steering group or networking body for minority-led arts and heritage organisations in the North East [planning in process].
URL https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/research/research-areas/art-and-design/multi-cultural-heritage/
Description (Multi)Cultural Heritage 
Organisation Angelou Centre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Collaborative research into minority-led organisation.
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research into minority-led organisation.
Impact None yet
Start Year 2018
Description (Multi)Cultural Heritage 
Organisation Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaborative research
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research. Hoisting of partner workshop.
Impact Not yet
Start Year 2018
Description (Multi)Cultural Heritage 
Organisation Khizra Foundation
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Collaborative research into multicultural organisations
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research into multicultural organisations
Impact Not yet
Start Year 2018
Description Guest Speaker 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Invited talk about the research project from University of Westminster dept of Humanities. Part of their broader speaker series but aimed at national academic, culture sector professionals and communities. Lively exchange and challenges from heritage professionals and also BAME community members. Follow up exchanges with individuals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/multicultural-heritage-new-perspectives-on-public-culture-identity-an...
Description Partner Workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Twenty participants from academia, government agencies and a range of multicultural arts and heritage organisations engaged in a series of workshops related to the project.
Questions debated session 1 'Organisations' included what is the nature of your minority-led organisation, what are your motivations for leading/developing such an organisation, and what issues are shared among workshop participants.
Questions engaged session 2 'Heritage' included what is heritage? What does our heritage 'do' for us as minority citizens? Relationship of heritage and the arts? Heritage and youth?
Questions engaged in session 3 'Impact' included What is the impact of your organisation on community heritage/culture/identity? What has been this research project's impacts? How might we jointly organise some impactful events?
Part of a series of workshops - final one on 'Policy' to be held 9 April 2019.
Participant organisations reported interest in continuing the conversation in relation to defining 'heritage', in developing mechanisms to further the network/engagement, and to respond with policy-related ideas in any Follow-on projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
Description Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact As a concluding event, the PI and (multi)cultural sector partners have organised a gathering and symposium in Newcastle called "Whose Heritage?". The event brings together nationally recognised heritage and cultural leaders from academia and industry, with local emerging or non-establishment creative producers. Whose Heritage? aims to expand society's attitudes about heritage, and to incorporate ideas of 'difference' and 'change' into how we think about the past. Participants and keynote speaker David Olusoga revisit in a contemporary context Stuart Hall's landmark address, offered 20 years ago in 1999, entitled "Whose Heritage? Unsettling 'the Heritage', Reimagining the postnation". This symposium makes public multiple grassroots, small organisation and youth-led perspectives on 'heritage', broadly defined. Research partners, all multicultural 3rd sector organisations, were keen to 'going public' with cultural difference will make a claim on how culture and heritage is envisioned and practiced in the Northeast of England.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Website - note that this site is not loading properly - must be cut and pasted. www.northumbria.ac.uk/research/research-areas/art-and-design/multi-cultural-heritage/ 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact This is a website and twitter site for the project and expanded ideas - www.northumbria.ac.uk/research/research-areas/art-and-design/multi-cultural-heritage/ and the twitter site @MultCulHeritage
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
URL https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/research/research-areas/art-and-design/multi-cultural-heritage/