Cornwall Heritage Awards 2023: It’s that time of year again
Autumn: shorter days, crispy leaves and Cornwall Heritage Awards applications. It’s one of our favourite times of the year, when we look forward to hearing about all the good things that have happened throughout the year and plan our celebration of all the wonderful people who work in heritage across Cornwall in February.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day and to find our attention drawn to problem-solving and challenges, ranging from volunteer rotas to budget deficits to leaky roofs. It’s hard sometimes to create space for reflection on our achievements, and very tempting to dismiss our wins (big and small) while we move on to the next thing. The reason we most love the Heritage Awards is that it creates a space to say, hang on, we did something wonderful this year and it had a positive effect; we have created some change and some impact that has made a difference.
And there are so many areas in which museums and heritage organisations can make this difference: within the organisation, for their communities and audiences, and for their workforce. This is reflected in the Awards categories we have chosen to keep this year: Innovation, Collaboration, Well-being, and Healthy Team. We hope that consistency in these categories from year to year will help keep them fixed in everyone’s minds. We have also retained the Heritage Heroes, Leader of the Year, and One to Watch, as we know our amazing workforce is at the very centre of our sector.
We listened to feedback about the application process from last year and have made changes to make the process of applying less onerous. There are fewer and shorter questions! We will be continuing to ask about inclusion and environmental sustainability in every application, as it is so fundamentally important that we all (not just in the heritage sector) keep moving in these areas. From now on, we will ask what actions organisations have taken in the past year. We can’t state enough, these actions should be reflective of the scale of the organisation. Every little change counts.
We have recorded a webinar to support applications. Please have a watch if you are thinking of applying as it contains lots of useful pointers, plus bonus top tips for writing funding applications. Top takeaways: don’t be afraid to use subheadings and bullet points.
Object of The Year
Some of the questions we have received following the webinar are around Object of the Year: Climate Stories. This year we are turning the spotlight on the climate crisis by drawing public attention to objects in our museum collections that tell climate stories. Museums and heritage organisations hold collections that tell stories of human interaction with our planet over generations and can use these stories to influence the future behaviour of their audiences.
But what kind of object tells a climate story? Does it have to be a natural history specimen? It could be; tracking species and habitats over time is a powerful demonstration of the effect of climate change on biodiversity. But there is plenty of scope for more subtle yet impactful stories in the wider context of climate change and the effect of humans on our planet. You could have an object which tells a story of the industrial revolution and the sudden and huge demand for fossil fuels. You may have an object which tells the story of historic resourcefulness that we could be inspired by today. You might have a painting or photograph that sparks a conversation about our changing land and seascape. It could be an object which shows us how making a living in Cornwall has been affected by climate change. It could be an object from Cornwall that tells a local story, or it could be an object collected from another part of the world that tells a story of social and climate justice. It could be a historic object or a recent acquisition.
Object of the Year is meant to be both a celebration of the wonderful collections held in Cornish museums, archives and galleries and a chance to provoke thought and discussion during the public vote.
Please do get in touch if you have any queries about the application process, if you are unsure whether to apply, or if you want to check an Object of The Year story. Email us at HeritageAwards@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk and we’ll answer your query as swiftly as possible, or arrange to have a more detailed chat.