Digital Skills for Heritage – meeting the coronavirus (COVID-19) challenge

Josie Fraser
Josie Fraser explains how we will help organisations face the current crisis and beyond through our digital skills initiative.  

We recently announced our Digital Skills for Heritage initiative, designed to help organisations thrive in the digital era.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made the need for organisations to understand and make use of digital more pressing than ever before.  

Because of this, we are working with our partners to better meet the new and emerging needs of the heritage sector. We also want to help organisations develop the skills that will build their resilience long term.  

"Many heritage organisations are having to upskill more quickly than ever before." 

Making use of digital means that staff, volunteers and communities can continue to stay connected. It also means many heritage organisations are having to upskill more quickly than ever before. 

What is The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s digital response?  

We will act on what organisations are telling us they need support with, but adapt this as new needs are identified and as the situation changes.

We will work with the sector to help find solutions while keeping an eye to the future – helping develop the skills that will build resilience long term. 

Our approach focuses on finding out what organisations need, and scaling support though peer learning and network development, and through providing free, openly licenced resources. 

We will continue to keep an eye to the future by building skills that will help organisations through the current crisis and into the future. 

Surveying the sector

We are inviting all organisations who work in heritage to register now for the Digital Attitudes and Skills for Heritage (DASH) survey, lead by Timmus Ltd:

You can let us know about your organisation’s current digital support needs. You can also tell us if your organisation currently provides free digital skills support to the sector or would like to.

The full survey will be open between Monday 27 April and Friday 10 July. It will look at a range of issues including putting content online, communicating and fundraising, collaboration and group work, and innovative digital practice. 

May we ask that only one person from each organisation signs up initially. We will send this person a custom link to pass on to others in their organisation once the survey opens.

What will we do with this information?

In the first instance we will be using what you tell us to help match organisations to support and to shape our planning. The Fund will also use the information provided to summarise digital attitudes and skills across the heritage sector, identify gaps, and highlight great practice. 

Organisations will be provided with their own summary survey data for free, and a sector-wide report will be published on the findings in October.

Training and support for heritage organisations 

Earlier this year, we awarded grants totalling nearly £500,000 to The Digital Heritage Lab, led by the Arts Marketing Association, and Heritage Digital, which is run by The Heritage Alliance.

Both have revised their original plans in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. We will share information about how to take part via the DASH survey registration process, and through our social media channels. 

The Digital Heritage Lab

The Digital Heritage Lab offer will focus on:

  • digital fundraising
  • digital marketing 
  • engaging audiences digitally
  • working with online collections

They have brought forward their schedule to deliver initial events from 20 April 2020. These will be a mix of 'emergency surgeries' and online workshops. 

From September 2020 they will run an online digital skills academy. Four thousand training places will be available along with a wide range of resources.

Heritage Digital

Heritage Digital will focus on:

  • supporting organisations with digital marketing
  • engaging audiences digitally
  • intellectual property and data protection
  • digital business tools and processes

They plan on releasing free digital guides and resources from June 2020. Their event programme will run from September 2020–July 2021 and include both online and face-to-face activities. The programme intends to support over 700 heritage organisations. 

Leading the Sector 

The first cohort of our Leading the Sector course, led by Culture24, will be announced in May.  

The course will take place exclusively online in the first instance, providing cultural sector leaders with the skills and confidence to build their organisations’ digital maturity and capacity.

The course will start in May 2020 and end in early 2021. 

The project will identify where pressing issues can be supported by digital. It will also support digital transformation in order to benefit organisations for years to come.

We will be sharing insights and resources along the way.

The Digital Confidence Fund  

The Digital Confidence Fund will support 20 organisations from our 13 Areas of Focus, with one-to-one mentoring and support by ROSS consultants. It will run between June 2020, when the successful organisations are announced, and December 2021.

We will be sharing case studies on ways organisations can thrive using digital. 

Keep in touch

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