Saturday, 26 September 2009

Heritage Minister promotes story of Wales

Heritage Minister sets direction to better tell the story of Wales

A new survey to identify 20th century assets of historic importance in Wales and a register of Welsh Battlefields will be among the priorities of the Heritage Minister, Alun Ffred Jones as he publishes his Strategic Direction Statement for the Historic Environment of Wales today [22 September].

The action outlined in the statement, the first in Wales since 2003, will contribute to the work of ensuring that Wales’ story is told so that the people of Wales and visitors alike gain a better understanding of our Historic Environment. It also provides an opportunity to further celebrate our identity as a nation, our pride in our heritage and the contribution countless men and women have made over the centuries to Wales and the world.

Speaking before his statement in Plenary, the Minister, said:

“Nurturing a living sense of what it is to be a citizen of Wales is a key priority for the Assembly Government. Citizenship is about emotional ties and imagined community, as much with previous generations as with ones to come. Our objective is therefore to help all people in Wales to gain at least some sense of the historic environment in which they live.

“We are all part of the story and the buildings and the archaeology around us help to give a sense of place. People in Wales have experienced a tradition of working in or alongside the industries that were so important in the development of the country. Whole families have worked in local quarries or mines. The chapel and school buildings seen in every community remind us of their focal role in the social history of Wales. The Welsh language and Welsh culture are irrefutably bound to the historic environment of Wales. Everyone has his or her story to tell. And we need to take advantage of all means of telling those stories. We need to be clear that our history and historic environment is part of our story – not something which happened to some one else a long time ago.”

The Minister will announce a package which includes a Statement of his ambition for the historic environment; A Celebration Statement - underlining the importance of the historic environment and its wider impacts and benefits, together with key issues or challenges and thirdly, the headline actions which will be taken by the Assembly Government and its heritage partners.

In announcing his priorities the Minister will commit to actions to conserve and protect the historic environment; to promote heritage led regeneration; to develop imaginative and stimulating ways for people to access Welsh heritage; and to foster new research and learning into Welsh heritage.

The Heritage Minister, said:

“Heritage has many benefits. As my Statement shows, heritage can make an enormous difference to Wales today. Economic benefits through tourism are the obvious example – 90% of international visitors staying in Wales visit cultural sites. This level of activity cannot be underestimated in our economy.”

Among the key actions included in the Minister’s statement are:

* Cadw will carry out a new survey to identify 20th century assets of historic importance and will consult on a Battlefields Register. It will also take measures to develop a modern, clear, accountable system of heritage protection with up to date guidance. To ensure an ongoing dialogue with all sector interests, a further Treftadaeth conference will be convened in July 2010.
* Continued collaboration on the sustainable regeneration of heritage sites and townscapes. Cadw’s ongoing programme of urban characterisation studies to capture the essence of local distinctiveness will help inform regeneration schemes
* Work with the Minister for Children, Education Lifelong Learning and Skills and others on the promotion of the study of Welsh history at community level and in higher education and about the contribution that our historic environment can make to the school curriculum.
* Work with local communities to run events at Cadw sites and encourage local projects which celebrate the Welsh language, place names, local heritage and folklore. Discussions will be held with the third sector on how to develop rewarding opportunities for volunteering and skills development and will help support the creation of a heritage network.
* Ensure collaborative action to tackle access barriers to heritage and through Cadw develop a groundbreaking all Wales Heritage Interpretation Plan.
* Finally, the Minister will convene a Heritage Summit in 2010 to discuss heritage interpretation and the links between heritage and the Arts.

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