Members of the public were today invited to have their say on how government should support our heritage.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan today launched a public consultation on a new Historic Environment Fund.
In a period of reduced budgets the DOE is proposing a funding package aimed at kick starting a wide range of projects and initiatives in the sector. This will help the community and owners realise the full value of Northern Ireland’s heritage.
Minister Durkan explained: “In this period of reduced budgets it is important that we ensure that our funds are targeted where they can make the maximum difference. I want to encourage the widest amount of activity in this area and am therefore proposing a fund which seeks to provide support across the sector rather than focusing on a few projects.
“I am seeking action on four fronts: heritage research – to encourage creative solutions; heritage repair – to encourage the conservation of listed buildings and scheduled monuments; heritage regeneration- to deliver benefits for the community and economy; and heritage revival -to realise the social value of this important resource.
“These tasks are all necessary and they require partnership if their full potential is to be achieved. That is why I want to provide support. Together we can ensure that our heritage is well cared for, is well understood, and is well utilised as the key resource for this region which we all know it to be.”
The Fund will run for four years and will be administered by the Historic Environment Division within the new Department for Communities. It brings together existing and new funding streams for the sector..
New proposals include: an Incubation- Innovation Fund to encourage creative proposals to unlock the value of heritage; seed funding for community capacity building projects; enhanced support for heritage at risk that does not have a clear economic use; support for small scale works to listed churches; an award scheme to highlight success in the sector and support for schools seeking to take pupils to historic sites.
The consultation is seeking comments on the approach and on the proportion of support which should be allocated to each area.