Is 2016 a bumper year for heritage anniversaries?

Is 2016 a bumper year for heritage anniversaries?

Carole Souter, Chief Executive of HLF
Chief Executive of HLF, Carole Souter, talks about what’s on in 2016 and whether or not this year sees a bumper crop of heritage anniversaries.

BBC Radio 4’s Today programme recently posed an interesting question for the start of the year – is this a bumper year for heritage anniversaries and commemorations? As they put it: brace yourself for 'a whole year of anniversary coverage'.

There are certainly a lot on our radar already, including:

  • 40th anniversary – the birth of punk culture and the first Sex Pistols single
  • 50th – England wins football World Cup  
  • 100th – significant First World War events including the Battles of Jutland and the Somme
  • 200th – Charlotte Bronte's birth
  • 300th – Capability Brown's birth
  • 400th – Shakespeare’s death
  • 500th – Royal Mail established

Admittedly we’re biased, as we believe that understanding, celebrating and looking after our heritage benefits people, communities and the UK as a whole, so the more anniversaries there are to mark, the better.

But the Today discussion suggested to me that the most interesting question is not whether we decide to mark an anniversary but how we do so.

[quote]"Understanding, celebrating and looking after our heritage benefits people, communities and the UK as a whole."[/quote]

If one of the reasons for commemorating, celebrating and promoting our heritage is to do with recognising what has brought people together in the past, then surely marking these events successfully must bring people together today?

Among the projects we’re funding this year are several which do this very explicitly:

Punk London 

London’s leading cultural venues will be celebrating the legacy and continuing influence of the capital’s punk scene with gigs, talks, films, exhibitions and museum displays throughout 2016. Punk London kicked off this month with the Resolution Festival at the 100 Club, the world-renowned venue that hosted the legendary two-day 100 Club Punk Festival in September 1976. And in keeping with punk’s grassroots ethos, punk fans up and down the country are being encouraged to create their own events.

Find out more on the Punk.London website.

England’s 1966 World Cup triumph remembered

The 50th anniversary of England’s generation-defining World Cup win will be celebrated with two exhibitions exploring and commemorating the victory. The exhibitions, hosted by the National Football Museum and the Football Association, will be at the museum’s Manchester home and Wembley Stadium. The exhibitions will look at the stories of the players and their families, the fans and the popular culture of the time. The ball used in the final and the Jules Rimet trophy will also be on display.

First World War commemorations

People’s connections to the First World War are far reaching. One of our aims is to encourage a broad range of perspectives and interpretations of events and their impact and this has resulted in HLF funding more than 1,000 projects, each looking at the war from a slightly different angle. Our funding programme includes First World War: Then and Now, which specifically aims to help communities explore, conserve and share their First World War heritage. And this year will mark the centenaries of the Battles of Jutland and the Somme.

A wide range of anniversaries

But is this a particularly bumper year for anniversaries? I think you could make that argument for almost any year. Over 100 anniversary projects were awarded HLF grants last year. Some were relatively small-scale and local but important to the communities involved. Some marked significant aspects of the First World War, which will obviously see more commemorations over the next two years. HLF has always supported projects that mark anniversaries of all kinds – and will continue to do so.

We all have our personal connections to the history and heritage of the communities and places in which we live and work. Thanks to National Lottery players, we can take part in projects and events which mark those connections.

What is your special anniversary for 2016?

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