Simplicity, flexibility and heritage projects rooted in communities

Simplicity, flexibility and heritage projects rooted in communities

Eilish McGuinness
Our Chief Executive, Eilish McGuinness, reflects on the latest milestones along the 10-year journey of our new strategy, Heritage 2033.

With the publication last month of our first three-year delivery plan, we’re moving closer to bringing our ambitious Heritage 2033 strategy to life and supporting projects of all sizes that connect people and communities to UK heritage.

From January next year, applications through our open programmes, National Lottery Grants for Heritage, will be centred around our simplified framework of four investment principles: saving heritage, protecting the environment, inclusion, access and participation, and organisational sustainability.

We want to keep supporting your vital work to protect, share and celebrate the places, collections, traditions and stories that make up the UK’s diverse and fascinating heritage.

Our investment approach

We’ve taken on board what you’ve told us through our strategy survey and public outreach, our EDI research and our regular website user surveys. We’re working on new guidance and forms that will make your application experience simpler and clearer and more proportionate to the amount of money you’re applying for.

Our investment principles will guide our decision making. We will ask applicants to take these into account in their applications, but the strength of focus and emphasis on each principle will be for you to demonstrate. This will allow us to identify strengths and potential. We believe it will also lead to more creative and sustainable projects that are rooted in communities. We’ll share further information and guidance as we develop these new processes. 

At the heart of Heritage 2033 is our vision for heritage to be valued, cared for and sustained for everyone’s future. Over the next three years, we’re planning to invest over £1billion. To do that, we need you to continue developing projects so we can get funding to you and deliver that vision together.

During this transition period, we are keeping disruption to a minimum, but there will be a short pause in applications for some of our open programmes from November. However, we know the needs of the heritage sector are great and funding is vital, so please do continue to develop and submit your project ideas during the transition and speak to us if you have any concerns.

Here for you

While we’re busy behind the scenes getting ready for launching our new funding processes, we know that many of you who work with and care for the UK’s heritage are busy just keeping going in what remains a challenging environment.

We want to keep supporting your vital work to protect, share and celebrate the places, collections, traditions and stories that make up the UK’s diverse and fascinating heritage.

We can do that through our open programme project grants – and if you’re ready to submit an application now, please don’t wait until January, as we can support you through the transition period. 

We also continue to offer support via our resilience and recovery offer, and since last August, we’ve awarded £41.6million to help strengthen heritage organisations. Over the past 12 months we’ve also awarded £33.5m in grant increases to help heritage projects keep on track amid rising inflation and operating costs. Again, get in touch if you have any questions about the funding we can offer.

We will do everything we can to support those of you who need it now, and throughout the life of our Heritage 2033 strategy. Organisational sustainability is one of the four investment principles which will underpin our investment decisions, and we’re committed to being flexible and responding to crises through our strategic initiatives.

The walls of Sheerness Dockyard being held up by scaffolding

It has taken almost 10 years to rescue, repair and restore the historic Sheerness Dockyard Church. Credit: James Brittain.

Interior view of the restored Sheerness Dockyard Church, including seating and office space

It is now an enterprise hub and cultural centre. The project was completed with the help of a £591,545 grant increase.

I want to continue to hear from you and collaborate further to deliver our shared vision for heritage over the years ahead.

Think big

One of the other things we’ve done to respond to the cost of living crisis is to increase the upper and lower limits of our grants.

And I’m delighted to say that since we raised the maximum to £10million in May, we’ve already received some impressive and exciting expressions of interest and we’re working with organisations to help them develop their ideas.

I know projects at this scale aren’t feasible for everyone at the moment. But for those who are in a position to deliver large-scale heritage projects that reflect our ambitious vision for the sector, we want to hear from you.

Thriving places

The next Heritage 2033 milestone on my agenda is announcing the first batch of places for targeted, longer-term investment that boosts pride in place and connects communities to heritage. We plan to support 20 places over the lifetime of the strategy and the first nine will be announced next month.

Our place strategic initiative will help boost the capacity of places to develop partnerships in each local area, to tackle long-standing heritage issues at scale, and generate the potential to draw on wider investment. 

This targeted geographical investment will, first and foremost, respond to local needs. But we hope the impact we demonstrate along the way will encourage other place-based schemes, creating new collaborations and partnerships, and help transform places with significant heritage and community needs.

Work is also continuing to develop the other strategic initiatives outlined in Heritage 2033. We’ve just completed a series of roundtable discussions with stakeholders across the UK to develop plans for our landscape initiative. We’ll be looking to work with partners to support large-scale projects that revive landscapes, support nature recovery and enhance connectivity for people and wildlife.

We will keep you updated on this and our other strategic initiatives over the coming months.

Ahead, together

Heritage 2033 is a reflection of the generous contributions and expertise of many people and partners who care about heritage, so it was heartening to hear back via our UK Heritage Pulse survey that you felt Heritage 2033 supports the sector’s needs and is relevant to your priorities.

I want to continue to hear from you and collaborate further to deliver our shared vision for heritage over the years ahead.

In the meantime, I hope many of you will be getting out and enjoying some of the UK’s fantastic heritage this summer. We’ve been rounding up our favourite openings and opportunities and there really is something for everyone – maybe I’ll see you there.

Exterior view of Hyde Picture House
Hyde Park Picture House, recently reopened following a £4m restoration. Credit: Ollie Jenkins.

You might also be interested in...

If you query is regarding our application portal, please contact our support team.