Monday, 3 September 2012

Heritage Spotlight

In the UK this week thousands of museums, stately homes, heritage sites, parks and historic buildings are throwing their doors open to the public free of charge. Some of them do so anyway, but this week sees lots of places that aren’t usually accessible to the general public (e.g. private homes, old schools or business premises) open to celebrate these two Heritage Open Days.

History has always been a vital part of the UK’s tourist industry, and “heritage” is big business. The National Lottery was quick to pick up on this when it began and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) was formed.

Over the years the HLF has funded many projects with an lgbt theme. I became involved in one myself when I was approached by the HLF in 2007. They had seen an absence of lgbt heritage projects coming forward for funding in the area of the country where I lived and went looking for possible projects themselves.

During a week-long exhibition for LGBT History Month the HLF asked if they could help fund a project based on my lgbt tours of Nottingham. I thought of something bigger, and with the help of David Edgley of Nottingham Switchboard co-founded Nottinghamshire’s Rainbow Heritage. I also designed the logo (below). The lottery funding ended earlier this year, but I’m pleased to say the project is continuing thanks to grants and funding from elsewhere.

The HLF has given grants to other lgbt heritage projects around the UK over the years. Here are just a few, and the groups who received them :
Before Stonewall: Memories of the LGBT Community (Gay and Lesbian Arts and Media, Brighton)
Diverse-City (Manchester Joint Health Unit)
Gay Birmingham Remembered (Birmingham Pride Community Trust)
Get Involved (LGBT Youth Scotland)
LGBT Community Heritage (Intercom Trust)
Out the Past (Marketing Manchester)
Our Story, Liverpool (Unity Theatre, Liverpool)
Queer Arts, Artists and Culture (QueerupNorth)

Towards the end of the 20th century a lot of lgbt groups and organisations began to record and collect their own history and heritage. The first of these were in the USA, and there is a thriving lgbt museum industry there, more so than in the UK where there is no permanent lgbt museum.

With this in mind I intend to start a new series on lgbt museums and heritage projects around the world. I’ll feature one a month in “Heritage Spotlight”. Hopefully I can persuade someone from the featured museum or project to write something for me. Not only will I look at general lgbt history but also some of the more specialised ones (e.g. the Leather Museum and Holocaust memorials). Even the most interesting websites and blogs may be featured.

And this is where you can help. I know which ones I want to feature, but I’d like to know which ones you want to see. So if there’s an lgbt museum, project, exhibition, website or blog that you have come across which you think needs a bit more attention drop me an email

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