Celebrating two years of Digital Skills for Heritage

Celebrating two years of Digital Skills for Heritage

Woman working digitally
This month we are marking two years of our Digital Skills for Heritage initiative by looking at how far we’ve come, and where we’re going next.

Digital Skills for Heritage was designed to raise digital skills and confidence across the UK heritage sector, launching in February 2020.

When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit the UK in March, digital ways of working became more critical than ever for keeping organisations running and connecting people to heritage. The initiative pivoted to meet new and urgent needs, helping thousands of organisations develop their use of digital.

"Thanks to all of our incredible partner organisations, the initiative has been able to deliver timely, effective support to develop the essential digital skills and approaches needed to meet the challenges of the last two years, and which will help the sector long into the future." 

Josie Fraser, the Heritage Fund Head of Digital Policy

So far, Digital Skills for Heritage has helped and funded 65 projects across the UK, alongside recovery funding and our open funding programme.

To celebrate, projects funded by us have taken part in a film celebrating the impact Digital Skills funding has had on their organisations.

We also spoke to Wikimedia CEO Lucy Crompton-Reid, who offers her expert advice on working with digital volunteers – a crucial skill highlighted in our Digital Attitudes and Skills for Heritage (DASH) research.

Highlights from the past two years

Since 2020, we have expanded the initiative in response to sector feedback to provide additional support for digital innovation, enterprise and business skills. The initial budget has trebled from £1.2million to £3.5m, including £1m with support from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Culture Recovery Fund.

Understanding the UK heritage sector

We commissioned two unique research projects. The DASH surveys, led by Timmus Ltd, represent the first comprehensive benchmarking of the sector's digital skills and attitudes, and helped us shape our work. A total of 8,232 individuals have taken part, allowing us to provide tailored data and advice to 846 organisations. 

Helping organisations move online during the pandemic

To help the sector shift their work online, we hosted expert webinars and published guides on essential ethical and legal topics, as well as an introduction to online learning.

Support and training

We funded two amazing organisations to provide hands-on events and activities, with a wealth of free resources still available: Heritage Digital, led by The Heritage Alliance, and Digital Heritage Lab, led by the Arts Marketing Association.

The Heritage Digital Academy, led by Charity Digital Trust, was funded through DCMS Culture Recovery Funding. This project is running until October 2022, and provides a range of training focusing on digital innovation, enterprise and business skills.

Helping low-confidence organisations get started 

We are supporting 23 organisations to grow their digital skills, combining funding with specialist mentoring support. These projects run until May 2022.  Our Raising Confidence helpdesk team has provided one-to-one support to organisations across the UK.

Volunteering and collaborating

We awarded £1m to 17 amazing projects to help them work with digital volunteers, from cathedrals and councils to natural heritage.

Connected Heritage, funded by The National Lottery and DCMS, is seeing eight projects working together to share their expertise and resources.

What’s coming up

Supporting senior leaders

The second round of professional development programme Leading the Sector, led by Culture24, is about to begin. A series of online seminars and on-site networking events, it starts soon with a seminar on the future of hybrid working. 

The Digital Skills for Heritage Online Learning Hub launches in April, answering the heritage sector’s top 100 digital questions. Three teams from the Arts Marketing Association, the University of Leeds and The Heritage Alliance are working together on this online resource.

Get involved

Find all of our inspiring news and free resources on our Digital Skills page, and sign up to our newsletter to make sure you don't miss out on what's coming next.

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